Empty desks part of the plan

Date published: 10 March 2014

SOME of Oldham’s newest secondaries could have the largest number of empty desks in September.

Figures from Oldham Council show Oasis Academy Oldham was left with the most spaces when year 6 pupils were allocated their secondary school places on March 3.

Only 216 current year 6 pupils were given a spot at the Hollins school, which has a 300-place capacity - a shortfall of 28 per cent.

Oldham Academy North, Royton, was 56 short of filling its 240 places (23.3 per cent gap) and Newman College, Chadderton, had an 11 per cent deficit with 267 of its 300 places allocated.

Oasis and Oldham Academy North opened in 2010, a year before Newman College.

The only other schools in the borough with shortfalls were Failsworth, with 300 places and 275 pupils allocated, and Collective Spirit Free School, which opened last year and was four short of its 60 capacity.

Schools point out that the figures, which were forecast, are already changing as parents enquire about places.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet member for education, said: “In recent years, Oldham Council has extensively planned and financially invested in education facilities and provision in Oldham.

“This planning also took into consideration the issue of surplus secondary school places in the borough. Over the past few years, the new or refurbished schools and academies are much bigger schools and therefore have more places for pupils.

“We’re seeing a bulge in primary school pupil numbers, similar to many other local authorities across the country. Over the next five years this will feed into our secondary schools intake.”

The vast majority of year 6 pupils will go to the secondary school of their choice in September.

A total of 84 per cent of youngsters (2,422) got a place at their preferred secondary, down slightly from 87 per cent last year. Eight per cent will attend their second choice school (six per cent last year) and two per cent their third choice.

Current school occupancy:

SCHOOL, No of places, Allocation 2014/15, Waiting list?

Oasis Academy 300, 216, No;

Oldham Academy North, 240, 184, No;

Blessed JH Newman, 300, 267, No;

Failsworth, 300, 275, No;

Collective Spirit, 60, 56, No;

Crompton House, 195, 195, Yes;

Hathershaw, 210, 210, Yes;

Blue Coat, 240, 240, Yes;

North Chadderton, 240, 240, Yes;

Royton & Crompton, 240, 240, Yes;

Saddleworth, 270, 270, Yes;

Radclyffe, 300, 300, Yes;

Waterhead Academy, 300, 300, Yes.

Oasis Academy Oldham principal David Hayes said the school had built up a financial surplus to mitigate the shortfall at one of the country’s most improved secondaries.

“We always knew it would be a challenge and take time to establish ourselves as the school of choice for our area and to bring up the admission numbers,” he said.

“We are establishing excellent relationships with the local primary schools in an area where other schools already have long-standing relationships. The turnaround taking place here is clear to see.”

Colette Burgess, principal of Oldham Academy North, said the number of pupils allocated was in line with predictions.

“There are fewer 11-year-olds this year but in future years, the number will increase as can be seen by the number of primary school-age children in Oldham.”