SECONDARY schools in Bolton will be given a slice of £54 million to hold “catch-up” classes for students who failed to reach the required level in English and maths.

The “catch-up premium”

will provide £500 per pupil to help every Year Seven child who did not reach the expected level in literacy and maths when they finished primary school.

Schools in Bolton will receive a total of £321,500 to help the 19 per cent — nearly one in five — of pupils who did not manage to pass level four exams in English and maths at key stage two.

Figures from the Department for Education show that only five per cent of pupils who failed to get level fours in both subjects went on to achieve five or more GCSEs at A* to C, including English and maths.

Westhoughton High School will get the largest handout, of £29,000, while Bolton Muslim Girls School will receive the least, just £6,500.

The youngsters will be given extra help through either individual tuition or intensive support in small groups.

The extra support is designed to help bring pupils up to speed so they are more likely to succeed at secondary school, rather than falling further behind.

By catching up with their classmates, the government hopes pupils’ motivation will also be boosted, in turn preventing disruptive behaviour.

Examples of what the money could be used for include small-group tuition supported by new classroom materials and resources, during lunch or after school, holiday support and extra services and materials to add to those provided by the school, such as tutor services, computerbased learning or online support.

Cllr Martyn Cox, vicechairman of Bolton Council’s children’s services scrutiny committee, said: “I am sure schools will welcome this money and some pupils will undoubtedly benefit.

“However, given the state of the public purse the question should be posed as to whether this money would have been better spent reducing the large fiscal deficit which has been run up by this generation of politicians and which, on current projections, is likely to be inherited by our children.”