AROUND 500 children in Oldham aged four to five have yet to enrol for the next school year, according to council figures.

In response to the dramatic drop in primary school applications this year, council bosses are urging parents and carers with school age eligible children to apply for school places.

Richard Lynch, Oldham council’s director for education, skills and early years, said: “Covid-19 has obviously played a big part and many people are out of their usual routines. There is a great network in Oldham that works with our communities, but the lack of face-to-face interaction may have led to some families just not realising the need to apply for a school place.”

He added: “We are also concerned that some young people and families may face very different and challenging circumstances this year and may not therefore have been in contact with those who would usually assist with the applications process, such as nurseries and childminders.

“It is vitally important that people who need to, make the applications as soon as possible. This helps schools prepare for each young person, including any induction days in the summer term as well as planning their budgetary requirements on school numbers.”

The council is planning a range of communications initiatives to raise awareness on the importance of applying for a school place.

An Oldham wide social media campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will also be used to raise awareness, particularly targeting parts of Oldham where applications are currently the lowest.

Messaging will also be shared with community Facebook groups which include Love Royton, Love Failsworth, Love Shaw, Love Saddleworth and Lees.

School applications can be done through the Oldham council website and any residents having difficulty accessing the internet can use computers at the Oldham Link Centre and Libraries.