Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills Cllr Amanda Chadderton and Leader Cllr Jim McMahon will be putting a motion to the Full Council meeting next Wednesday (18 December) calling for greater Government support for Oldham’s schools.
The motion, which laments the “severe curtailment” of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, proposes a series of resolutions to provide the best facilities for Oldham’s secondary schools, many of which had to scrap plans to be replaced or refurbished after Education Minister Michael Gove axed the Labour school investment policy in 2010. Nationally, this left improvements at 715 schools unable to go ahead.
In particular, Oldham’s Labour administration is concerned about Saddleworth School and Royton & Crompton School, which would have been replaced by BSF, and Hathershaw, Blue Coat and Crompton House, which would have undergone extensive upgrading and refurbishment.
It was announced this year that Oldham Council would be working towards building a new Saddleworth School under the new Priority School Building (PSB) programme, with the aim of opening in 2014. To achieve this, they are collaborating with the Education Funding Agency which is managing this project for the Department for Education.
Though some members of the community in Saddleworth have expressed a preference for this to be built on the existing school site in Uppermill, feasibility studies across 11 possible sites have brought an area in Diggle out on top. This decision was recently supported by a voluntary technical group of ward and parish councillors, council officers, school representatives and members of the public, which was tasked with determining which available location would be most achievable in the available timescale and budget and capable of providing the best possible learning environment for students.
Cllr Chadderton said, “Though it is excellent that we are very close to having funding and plans for a new Saddleworth School fully confirmed, Royton & Crompton School is still no longer fit for purpose and there are many urgent repairs and upgrades needed across Oldham’s secondary school estate. Hopefully, this motion will allow us to lobby Government for greater funding and freedoms to give young people across the borough the best possible educational experience.”
Cllr McMahon said, “With our best ever GCSE results this year and an A-Level pass rate of over 98%, Oldham’s young people are achieving great things academically. As a local authority, we want to make sure that we do everything we can to support that.”