A HUGE educational divide in Bolton has been revealed by new figures that show the number of people who do not have any qualifications.

The borough has some of the best and worst areas in the country for the number of qualified residents, figures from the University and College Union (UCU) show.

Town Hall chiefs said they were doing everything they could to narrow the gap.

In Bolton South East, which includes Farnworth, Kearsley and Great Lever, 16.1 per cent of residents have no qualifications, making it one of the country’s hotspots for educational under-achievement.

In Bolton West, however, which includes Heaton, Lostock, Horwich and Westhoughton, just 8.5 per cent of residents lack formal qualifications, lower than the national average of 10.7 per cent. The UCU also ranked the 632 parliamentary constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales according to the percentage of working-age people — 16 to 64.

Bolton South East was ranked 65th in the country and fifth worst out of Greater Manchester’s 27 constituencies, while Bolton West was placed 415th in the country. Only four other places in Greater Manchester had a better qualified population.

Bolton North East has 13.9 per cent of people without qualifications, placing it 136th in the country.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The academic performance of Bolton’s schools is consistently improving and we are addressing qualifications and skills, inc-luding among adults, that can affect access to employment within the town.

“There are some disparities across the borough and we are tackling the causes of deprivation which are associated with lower educational attainment levels.”

He said there were “strategies in place” to help local people to get qualifications.

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi said the figures ref-lected the high levels of deprivation and she would press for more investment.

She said: “We need to widen access to education but I’m concerned that the government’s policies on issues such as cutting the education maintenance allowance and increas-ing university tuition fees are doing the opposite and restricting access.

Bolton North East MP David Crausby said he believed the figures were “skewed” in his constituency by an “invisible line” of poverty.

Bolton West MP Julie Hilling said: “These figures are obviously related to poverty and Bolton West has lower levels of poverty than some other parts of Bolton.”