A GRASSCROFT school for children with autism is looking forward to the brightest of futures thanks to a remarkable gesture by a long standing Saddleworth family business.
Bright Futures faced an uncertain future when their rented Oldham Road premises were put up for sale in April 2018.
Next week staff and Bright Futures’ 12 pupils move to temporary premises, a former nursery in Greenacres.
But next year they aim to be back in Saddleworth after Robert Scott & Sons agreed to build them a new school on land they own in Greenfield.
Subject to planning permission, Bright Futures purpose-built school will be erected on land off Friezland Lane once earmarked, prior to Scotts’ ownership, for a housing development.
Zoe Thompson, the school’s proprietor, keen to also seek approval of local residents, takes up the story of the specialist independent school opened in 2010.
“In June, we sent out a press release appealing to Oldham people who might know of suitable properties to rent to get in touch,” said Zoe who had considered several other sites in Greenfield prior to the life saving offer.
“Daniel Scott from Robert Scott & Sons saw the newspaper article and visited the school.
“After thinking things over and discussing them with the company Board of Directors, Daniel made ‘the most magnificent offer’.
“His company have offered to build a new school for Bright Futures on the site of a former farm building on land opposite their Greenfield factory.”
Zoe explained: “The redevelopment of the site will also benefit the company, as part of the site will be developed as parking for Scott & Sons.
“But even so, we just couldn’t believe that someone would go to the lengths of building a whole new school for us – it’s so generous.
“Basically, Robert Scott and Sons have secured our future and given us a platform from which to implement some big plans that we have for our school.”
Scotts are the country’s leading distributor for retail cleaning products, based a Oakview Mills on Manchester Road.
Daniel added: “Having heard about the plight of the school and subsequently learned what a fantastic institution it is, we wanted to help.
“It was clear that what Bright Futures School needs is unique and as we have a plot of land that would really lend itself to meeting those needs. I was happy to offer to help.
“Between us we have been working on creating a fantastic small, nurturing learning environment, allowing the school to continue its amazing work with the children.”
The school has also been supported by Chartered Architectural Technologists, Whittaker Design, who offered help in locating alternative premises and Saddleworth South Councillor Jamie Curley, who helped navigate some Council-related issues.
Zoe added: “Jamie, Daniel and Lee have become strong supporters of the school’s novel approach to helping its pupils, after viewing video footage of the difference in pupils’ abilities to connect with others, share attention and not only to participate in but also to enjoy both learning and social interaction before and after a year’s input from Bright Futures staff.
“Although, it will mean moving twice, we wanted to take the initiative to move out of the Grasscroft building, which could sell at any time.
“Insecurity of tenure has been very stressful to live with. At times we have felt desperate because finding suitable alternative premises was proving to be so difficult.
“We have agreed a year’s lease on the nursery premises with an option to renew on a monthly basis if the new premises aren’t ready. It feels like we have finally turned a corner.”
The plans for the new school (by Whittaker Design)