Building to begin on new school for children with autism in Greenfield

BUILDING work will soon be underway on a new school in Greenfield for children with autism after a local contractor was appointed.

(L-R) Tom Worthington of Medlock FRB with Daniel Scott of Robert Scott and Zoe Thompson, founder of Bright Futures School

Family-owned cleaning manufacturer Robert Scott, which is funding the build, has appointed Oldham-based Medlock FRB Limited as contractors. 

Bright Futures School, founded in 2010 by Zoe Thompson and her late husband Dixon Milburn, is an independent school dedicated to helping children with autism aged five to 16.

The school began with one pupil – Zoe and Dixon’s eldest son Philip – but by November 2018 had grown to 12 pupils and 15 staff.

In April 2018, the school was informed its rented premises in Grasscroft were to be sold so they would have to move, and they are currently at premises in Greenacres.

Daniel Scott, operations director at Robert Scott, learned of their predicament and visited Zoe and the team to offer to fund the building of a new school.

The company enlisted chartered architectural technologists Whittaker Design to design new premises on vacant land opposite its Greenfield mill off Friezland Lane.

Plans, which meet the specific nature of the school’s requirements and allow an increase to 15 students, were approved by Oldham Council in February 2019.

Building work will commence on July 29, with the aim of completing by February 2020.

Zoe said: “Robert Scott’s generosity has secured our future and given us the peace of mind that we will be able to continue to provide valuable one-to-one education for children with autism and much needed support for the parents in the local community.”

Daniel Scott added: “Zoe, Alison and the team at Bright Futures have made huge sacrifices for a school they wholeheartedly believe in and that means so much to its pupils, their families, and the staff they employ.

“As a fourth-generation business, we’re very proud to be part of such an encouraging community. To be in a position to help secure the future of the school is extremely gratifying for us all.”

Lee Hollinworth, owner of Whittaker Design, added: “It has been an aim of the project to work with local suppliers, and with the latest appointment of Medlock FRB, we’re not only working to reduce the carbon footprint of the scheme, we’re also securing a future for those in our own community.

“This a huge milestone in the project and it’s now time to set our sights on completing the build by the end of the year so Zoe and her team are able to make a fresh start in 2020.” 

The site of the new school

While the build is already funded, Bright Futures is raising £40,000 to equip the school with the latest teaching technology and sensory equipment to aid the development of its pupils.

Zoe said: “We want to reach out to the local community to ask for their support to help us create a school that is not only desperately needed in the area, but one that can become a leading facility for the region.”

Helen Baker, Robert Scott’s marketing co-ordinator, recently completed an overnight bike ride from Manchester to Blackpool and has raised over £1,400 towards Bright Futures’ target.

Dan Lewis, project director at Medlock FRB, said: “To have been chosen as the contractor and to be part of creating a new home for Bright Futures School is very humbling.

“We cannot wait to get on-site and look forward to supporting the fundraising activity in the coming months.”

For more information or to make a donation, visit Friends of Bright Futures on Facebook.

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