FRUSTRATED PARENTS have launched a new online petition in an attempt to ‘Stop the delay, Find a way’ to get a new Saddleworth School built.
More than 500 people have already signed the petition which will be presented to Oldham Council and the Education Funding Agency (EFA).
It is the latest twist in the journey over the siting of the new £19.2 million Saddleworth School after a Judicial Review in January saw planning permission overturned.
Now, the newly-formed Saddleworth Parents group, started by four mothers, is urging authorities to find a way to build the school now.
They said focus of the project needs to come back to the children, education, a school fit for purpose and the future of local young people.
One mother said: “It is not about location and it is not about a local turf war. It is all about the kids, and them getting a new Saddleworth School.”
The petition reads: “We want Oldham Council and EFA to fulfil their promise of new, fit for purpose school premises.
“We want a new school building for our children and future generations. We want a new school building to facilitate quality education. We want a new school building we can be proud of… and we want it now.”
The group continued: “The EFA and Oldham Council have both officially reported the current school is in an unacceptable physical state.
“A new Saddleworth School has been on the OMBC agenda for more than eight years. With every year that passes another swathe of children and teachers make do with unacceptable schooling facilities.
“Saddleworth Parents want their collective voices demanding the expediency of a new school to be heard, and are asking as many people as possible to sign the petition.”
Saddleworth School’s departing Head Boy, Joe Wheeler, added: “Many of my peers and I have nothing to gain from supporting the new Saddleworth School build, but we feel strongly and are saddened not to have seen the start of the new school.”
One concerned parent said: “If Saddleworth can’t provide a local secondary school then we and many of my friends have said we would have no choice but to move away.”
Another Uppermill parent added: “The current Saddleworth School building is not somewhere I am prepared to send my daughter. Not because of the teaching, which I understand is excellent, but purely because the building is slowly turning in to a death trap.”
Alan Kirkham of established Kirkham Estate Agency, commented: “There is clear evidence property values are affected by the availability of a good school. The uncertainty over Saddleworth School will influence people to move in to, or indeed out, of the area.”
Keith Prior, spokesman for Diggle For Saddleworth School (D4SS) said they are fully in support of the new campaign.
“We should to push forward a new school without delay,” he declared. “There is no doubt the delay in building the replacement school will impact on the education of children in the long run.”
Keith Lucas, spokesperson for the Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) who want the school to be rebuilt in Uppermill, said: “Although I have as yet not seen the petition, I’m pleased the issue is at last again being aired and the public want answers.
“Like everyone else we want a new secondary school for Saddleworth and we are pleased to hear that the finances for the school build are ring fenced.
“There are clearly issues to be discussed openly and creatively that have not been properly addressed. So, let us all stop attacking and start talking.”
A decision from Oldham Council over a planning application and the siting of the new Saddleworth School is expected imminently.
Meanwhile, Oldham Council’s secondary school admissions letter has upset some exasperated Saddleworth parents looking to complete the process by the October 31 deadline.
Thirza Dixon, speaking the on behalf of the newly-formed Saddleworth Parents group, said: “After more than eight years of waiting for a new school, mums and dads are getting increasingly angry.
“The school admissions letter heightened frustration from Saddleworth parents looking to complete the process before the deadline.”
The ‘Saddleworth School: Stop the Delay. Find a Way’ petition can be found online at: http://tinyurl.com/ybrh5cxn
Also find more information on the Saddleworth Parents Facebook page.