Backing for the Futures – new school to be built in Greenfield

A “Forever home” in Saddleworth for pupils with autism has received the green light from Oldham Council’s planning committee.

The old Bright Futures school property in Saddleworth

Councillors unanimously agreed plans to provide a new home for Bright Futures School previously providing education in Grasscroft but now operating out of temporary premises in Greenacres.

The school will be built on land, provided by Robert Scott & Sons Ltd, off Friezland Lane, Greenfield, but there is no timescale for opening just yet.

But the future move is tinged with mixed emotions for Zoe Thompson, who co-founded Bright Futures in 2010 with late husband Dixon Milburn when the local authority was unable to find a suitable educational placement for their autistic son Philip.

Shortly after Dixon’s death in August 2017 the school’s former rented premises on Oldham Road were put up for sale.

“It was a truly awful period in my life,” said Zoe.

“Trying to deal with losing Dixon, supporting my two children through their bereavement and then coping with the uncertainty around the school’s future.

“The offer of a purpose-built school from Robert Scott & Sons was like a dream coming true.

“I’m overjoyed our ‘forever home’ has got the green light and then all of that is tinged with sadness and poignancy that Dixon isn’t here to share it.

“I am very lucky that I have been so well supported by a wonderful and very dedicated staff team.

“I am particularly grateful for the tenacity and determination of the school’s Head of Learning, Alison Hughes, who was just not going to let me, or the school, go under.’

“Daniel Scott rang me straight after he’d heard the news planning permission had been granted.

“And while I managed to hold it together on the phone, I burst into tears straight afterwards.

“I still can’t believe that Scott and Sons are doing this for us, it’s such a magnificent gesture.”

There is more information about Bright Futures School for children with autism on the school website www.brightfuturesschool.co.uk

• At the same meeting an application from Wiggettt Construction to build 20 homes on land to the rear of 29-51 Shaw Hall Bank Road, Greenfield was deferred.

Objectors to the scheme heard councillors ask for clarification why a financial contribution from the developers would be used at Churchill Playing Fields, rather than for affordable housing or on-site public open space. The next Oldham Planning Committee meeting is set for Wednesday, March 13.

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