‘Life-changing’ Saddleworth School officially opened

THE new Saddleworth School in Diggle will be ‘life-changing’ for pupils, said headteacher Mike Anderson at the official opening ceremony.

Special guests including former head boy and rugby legend Kevin Sinfield OBE, the construction team, governors, councillors and the Deputy Lieutenants of Greater Manchester Muzahid Khan and Karan Lee attended the event on May 4 to see the new facilities on Huddersfield Road.

They were welcomed with refreshments and music by Saddleworth School Band, conducted by Mr Garrath Beckwith, Curriculum Leader of Music.

Then guests gathered in the main hall to hear from Mr Anderson about the difference the new school is already having since the move there in March.

He said: “This is an incredibly important milestone for our school. It has been a decade-long journey to get here and it has not been smooth or straight-forward.

Saddleworth School official opening commemorative plaque pictured with governors

“But finally, after significant hard work, opposition and a judicial review, the planning was finally approved.

“Tilbury Douglas Construction have made sure we got a fantastic school that will be here for generations to come.

“It took two years for the new school to rise from the ashes of the former pallet works.

Kevin Sinfield

“Even during the struggles of the pandemic they pressed on and delivered a world class building to us on time.

“We are already seen the impact in the classrooms and the difference it is making to the children’s education.

“It is not an exaggeration to say it is going to be life-changing for the children here now and for future generations to come. Instead of a crumbling, creaking building we have state-of-the-art facilities.

“Our mission is to empower and inspire the children who come to this school and this new building will enable us to do that. It is nothing less than transformational for us.”

Kevin Sinfield added: “When I was at Saddleworth School in the 90s, there were whispers in the corridor then that we were going to get a new school. I look back on my time there with very fond memories.

“To have a world class facility like this will only enhance the pupils’ learning and memories of their time at school. We want our children to be in an environment that will give them the best education.

“It will hopefully provide a lot of Saddleworth children with the memories and great times I had when I was at school.”

Saddleworth School jubilee planting of sapling

Guests enjoyed a tour of the new school before Kevin unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the opening.

A sapling was also planted for the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Alice Rea, chair of governing body, said: “I have lived in Diggle for over 40 years, been a governor for 25 years, and chair for five years. I am delighted that at last we have got a school that the pupils finally deserve.

“The school is fantastic and the road into Diggle works really well so thank you to all involved.“It is not just the pupils who will benefit but the facilities are for the whole community and links are already being forged so the future for the school and the community is bright.”

She highlighted longest serving governor Richard Knowles for campaigning for the new school, Cllr Brian Lord who suggested the design of three wings using the natural lie of the land, and Cllr Pam Byrne who liaise with local residents during the works.

The school features 80 bright, modern classrooms, including specialist teaching rooms for Science, Food Technology, ICT and Design Technology.

There are also first-class sports facilities at the site with a sports hall, fitness suite and activity studios inside and an all-weather pitch outside.

Head Girl Millie Hampson said: “Although my time at the new school will be short, I am making the most of the new facilities which lots more pupils to come will enjoy.”

Joe George, Head Boy, added: “This is a landmark moment in the school’s history and for the community in general too.

Saddleworth School official opening Brian Lord, Dave Watson, Leigh Milburn and Matthew Milburn

“It has been talked about for so many years and we’re delighted to be part of it.”

Emma Barton, Executive Director for Place and Economic Growth at Oldham Council, said:

“We’re so happy for the young people of Saddleworth who fully deserve their outstanding new school.

“We look forward to Saddleworth School celebrating many more milestones and wish everyone the best of luck for the future.”

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