A CONSULTATION is under way to increase pupil capacity at Westhoughton High School, in Bolton Road.

Parents claim there is currently not enough outdoor space at the comprehensive school for 11 to 16-year-olds, and 'pupils on the second lunch sitting are sometimes left with little choice of food'.

The Bolton News previously reported that more than 200 extra high school places are being created in Bolton this September as education chiefs spend £15 million on building work to meet a 'desperate' need for demand.

Canon Slade in Bradshaw, Sharples Academy, Thornleigh Salesian College, Essa Academy in Great Lever, and Ladybridge High School will take an additional 30 pupils, while pupil numbers at St Joseph’s RC High School in Horwich will increase by 39.

The current consultation is giving parents and carers an opportunity to have their say on plans to increase the pupil numbers at Westhoughton High School from 230 to 270 per year. The current capacity stands at 1,150.

Parent Katherine Kershaw said: "This is something I feel strongly about. I have two children at Westhoughton High School one who is Special Educational Needs (SEN) and I feel they don't cope very well now as it is.

"With the increase in housing, the increase of school places is needed, but there isn’t enough outdoor space for the children who are already at the school.

"Students on the second lunch sitting are sometimes left with little choice of food and the increase of students will mean a third sitting.

"Also the teachers don’t cope with the amount of students attending now."

However parent and former pupil David Corbett was in favour of the plans.

He said: "Every improvement to the school is welcome in my books, whether an increase in classrooms, classroom assistants, teachers, facilities or any of the other numerous things associated with education."

A consultation letter sent to parents earlier this month also refers to potential plans to physically expand the school to cope with the extra demand.

A separation consultation would be held in relation to the building extension, and a planning application submitted to Bolton Council.

Resident Richard Bates, of Allenby Grove, said: "I have concerns in respect of class sizes and the quality and standard of education delivered.

"If the school is to accommodate more pupils, then they will need to expand and have additional classes - not simply add pupils on to existing class numbers."

Headteacher Phil Hart urged parents and residents to use the feedback form on the letter that has been circulated.

He said the school was working with the local authority and said that the way the site operates will change to make room for pupils.

Mr Hart said: "We are encouraging people to use the advertised feedback rather than taking to social media to voice their views.

"The consultation needs to be collated in one place to get a true reflection.

"We are working with the local authority to expand provision and create space for pupils.

"If parents have operational concerns, we would ask them to speak with the school.

"As the school expands, systems, processes and how we operate will change to accommodate pupils.

"We are in the early stages of engaging with the local authority over building expansion plans."

The six-week consultation opened on Monday, June 4, and will run until Friday, July 13.

A drop-in session will be held at the school on Wednesday, June 20 between 4pm and 6.30pm.

A council spokesman said: “Proposals were approved in February for Bolton Council to work with seven secondary schools in the borough to expand their capacity due to increasing demand for places. At Westhoughton, the pupil intake number will increase from 230 to 270 from this September with plans to undertake capital works to create extra space expected to take place over the next 12 months.”

To submit comments on the proposal, write to Ruth Crawford, Asset Management and Place Planning Unit, Department of People, 1st Floor, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1 1RU, or email ruth.crawford@bolton.gov.uk.