“We feel betrayed”: Saddleworth School head boy speaks out after judicial review decision

THE HEAD Boy of Saddleworth School says pupils feel “betrayed” following the judicial review decision to squash planning persmission for a move to Diggle.

head boy joe wheeler
Saddleworth School head boy Joe Wheeler

Joe Wheeler wrote his response on Facebook after hearing the news.

He said: “I’m all for people speaking their minds, everyone deserves the right to state their belief. That’s just freedom of speech after all.

“But what I can’t comprehend is how people can protest and petition AGAINST an action that could in simplistic terms begin the modernisation of education in the Saddleworth area.

“This change wouldn’t affect just the 1.500 people at the school. I mean, at this period in time, it wouldn’t change my life whatsoever because I’ll be long on my own path in education before there is a new build.

“So, you might wonder ‘well why bother wasting your time on something that won’t change your life in the slightest?’ My simple answer to this you will find in my initial sentence.

“I have as much freedom to my own opinion as anyone else in our district. Fair enough I may be biased as the current Head Boy but I think that gives me more reason to tell you exactly what the pupils of Saddleworth School are feeling today.

“We feel betrayed honestly. Betrayed by our own neighbours, who at this point are barricading the education of all pupils at Saddleworth School and those yet to be welcomed.

“Our school is a truly remarkable place. The tightly knit bond between student and staff is impeccable. We are a community. A community that in recent years has not been given the credit it perhaps deserves.

“The facilities do not reflect the calibre and standard of pupils and staff the school produces.

“The construction of the new school should not be a battle between the villages. We should all be in unison to allow the children of tomorrow every single opportunity to flourish within their education.

“I do not expect nor do I want to force my opinions on anyone. All I want is for the protesters and petitioners to really imagine and put themselves in our shoes.

“We go to school everyday to broaden our own knowledge and allow us to have the best chances of success in our lives.

“All I want is answers and reasons as to why anyone would want to prevent pupils from achieving their very best. Don’t get me wrong – we get by with what we’ve got and very rarely complain as we are grateful to be fortunate enough to be blessed with the right to an education.

“But we can only do so much with the ageing, derelict building we are currently working with.

“By writing this post I have no intention whatsoever to tarnish the near perfect reputation of Saddleworth School. My only intention is to inform the residents of Saddleworth the opinions of the vast majority of pupils at our remarkable school.”


17 Replies to ““We feel betrayed”: Saddleworth School head boy speaks out after judicial review decision”

  1. Coming from a current student, this is the most insightful and intelligent response that could be made on the subject. Mr Lucas of the Save Diggle Action Group claims to speak for “young people”. As this shows, let the young people speak for themselves.

  2. From what I’ve read I don’t believe the Save Diggle Action Group is against Saddleworth School as the pupil states – everyone in the area wants an up to date fully functioning school but that will not happen while Oldham Council ignores the council tax payers in the area who have a right to point out and “protest” when the council gets it wrong! If anyone has “betrayed” the pupils its the council! I wrote and complained and I’m delighted that for once the residents have stood their ground!

  3. SDAG may claim to “want an up to date fully functioning school” but their actions have prevented one being built. Given the nature of the current site and budget allowed, the Diggle site was the only feasible one and all the Council did “wrong” acccording to the JR was omit to pay attention to a “bridge” and “industrial heritage”. SDAG do not want a school in Diggle full stop.

  4. Innovation and ideas are learned in school. Mr lucas blind vision of Diggle being simply to beautiful to have a school of this stature in his village, were was he when those who decided to build the railway, the canal the reservoirs all around Diggle all man made all took a lot less planning to innovate future generations. Because this land has been left to rot., no longer looks anything like a heritage site, the council decided in invest in the future talent of Saddleworth. It is Mr lucus who brings harm to the Saddleworth community not the council. And its now Saddleworth who might loose its high school all together because of the petty few who shame so many.

  5. Do we really want a council that just does as it pleases? Councillors are voted in by the public and are accountable.
    Right from day one we were told “it’s a done deal” I for one don’t think that is in any way listening to constituents.
    I can understand the disappointment that the school feels, but lets be honest, if Oldham council had done the job correctly none of this would have happened.
    I myself as a Diggle resident feel the new school has to be built somewhere. The problem being wherever you want to build in Saddleworth somebody won’t be happy, that’s just the way of the world.
    If as in this case the council acted illegally, then it is correct the plans cannot go forward.
    Oldham Council planning department please do your jobs properly, let’s get a very needed new school built but within the law.

  6. Hopefully that’s what will happen now, Council will pay more attention to “industrial heritage” in next set of plans and building of school will go ahead in Diggle.

  7. Yes, Councils do make mistakes but in this case lawyers have gone through the process with a fine tooth comb and the only challenge accepted was that not enough care given to “industrial heritage”.

  8. SHAME on Oldham Council Members / Planning Committee – for its inadequate planning in not taking the important “industrial heritage” aspects of the proposed new school building into consideration
    Lets hope they will come up with suitable new plans incorporating necessary ” industrial heritage” changes ( a school fitting to the area) to satisfy the SDAG, then it’s full steam ahead for a much needed new school for our youngsters without further delays.

  9. From what.I understand people cannot understand why this school cannot be built on the.same sight.North Chadderton had been built on the same sight.I pass regularly.and watched the school being constructed.They.did it in stages and then demolished the old school.There was some disruption but this school.still managed to come in the.top.100 in the country. Having visited your school.at Yanks and as an outsider there seems to be more space than there was at Chadderton. What do the Council have in mind for the present site?.

    1. Well said Sir.. as a country we fight against curroption in other countries but was prepared to allow Oldham Council to just do what they wanted all in the cause of money… I’m sorry the Headboy feels the way he does..I can assure you that there are a lot of his fellow pupils, that would if they knew all the facts, fight like their parents have, to get a School that they deserve….this is not about Diggle not wanting this school cause they want a pretty landscape it’s about the danger of the road, the flooding of the land the ridiculous plan that allows buses and children and other people’s cars to all uses the same drive way, with only one way in and out…the list goes on and on.

  10. Lynda – one of the main problems is access to the site for construction vehicles and pupils at the same time. North Chad being on a flat site right on a main road is quite different. Feasibility studies were done to assess the current site and many issues including safety and cost ruled it out. Details of these studies should may be published again to avoid everyone going round in circles…..

  11. No one is stopping anyone from getting an education or stifling growth and development of pupils. It’s not about people not wanting better fascilities and a better place for people to study. It’s not as if petitioners don’t want a better school and all that comes with it. This is to do with the location. And solely the location. Not many people must have tried getting into Diggle on a normal day let alone rush hour. It’s single file and one way! I’m sure the £20m could be imaginatively spent on the current site to reinvigorate and regenerate to the benefit of pupils, staff and residents. It could even come down to who wants to buy the land and who wants to sell some land. Hmmm.

  12. Yes, access into Diggle is an issue ( the same as it would be into Uppermill if it weren’t for the yellow lines ) and this was to be addressed as part of the school scheme. Even offering those Diggle residents at the entrance to the village free alternative parking ! The school creates 15mins of traffic twice a day, yellow lines would have resolved the Diggle access issue 24hours per day.

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