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Transforming lives through education

Date published: 30 March 2010

Education is a subject in which almost everyone has an interest. Except for family environment, nothing affects your chances in life more than what school you attend, what kind of teachers you had, and what opportunities to learn and grow you were given.

Michael Jameson, Director of Education for Oldham Council, who is responsible for the education and well-being of 48,000 children under 16 across the borough, looks to the future.

CHILDREN starting school in Oldham next September will probably retire in 2072, yet none of us can predict what the future holds in 10 years’ time.

According to UNESCO, more people will graduate over the next 30 years than all the previous years combined.

Each year in China 450,000 engineering students graduate — three times the number who graduate in the UK in all science subjects.

Our most important task is to prepare our children for this infinitely more competitive future, and the education system we’ve had until now won’t serve us.

Oldham Council and its partners are investing £230 million over the next five years in education.

Through the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and academies programmes every single secondary school in the borough will be rebuilt, relocated or refurbished Radcliffe and Failsworth have already been rebuilt.

These valuable buildings won’t just provide opportunities and learning for young people; they’ll be hubs of the local community, providing state-of-the-art facilities, and evening classes and sports activities for all ages. This investment extends to the primary sector as well as children’s centres.

Investment in education on this scale is vital, because Oldham needs to be a place people choose to live.

We’re working to transform a former mill town with many run-down areas into a borough with attractive green spaces, leisure attractions and first-class sports facilities, decent housing and convenient transport links.

But most importantly, to make this happen, Oldham needs fantastic schools and colleges. It’s that combination that’s going to make people want to live and raise their families here.

Today, Oldham, as is the case in many parts of the country, is an unequal place. The life chances of a child from a central Oldham ward such as St Mary’s or Coldhurst are markedly poorer than that of a child from Saddleworth or Chadderton.

This cannot be right. We need a future in which every young person has the chance to succeed.

Oldham wants to use the BSF and academies programmes to revolutionise education, provide first-class schools, bring communities together and to transform the way education is delivered across the borough.

Transforming education is not just about new buildings, it is about changing how children are taught, making school a supportive place with excellent facilities and a curriculum that meets the needs of each child, including the most disadvantaged.

Academies at Waterhead, Hollinwood and Royton, new schools in Chadderton and Saddleworth and newly-refurbished North Chadderton, Crompton House, Bluecoat, Hathershaw, Royton and Crompton schools, will provide excellent teaching in 21st century environments, enabling our young people to experience high-quality learning that is tailored to their needs.

They will be inspiring places where young people from all backgrounds will be able to grow and learn together.

Over the next few months and years, there will be a debate about education in Oldham. Throughout it, we must see our children as the hope that they are.

Confidence and creativity aren’t qualities you grow into, they’re qualities we’re born with but too often they’re educated out of us. This needs to change.

In the future, our children will thrive in schools that will help them be all they can be. Schools that will provide them with the skills and knowledge they’ll need for a future we ourselves may not see.

Standing still certainly isn’t an option.


Hey Mike, just in case you hadn't notice there was a big mill in Waterhead, that should now be a green open space. Instead you are building again and wrecking an area you should stay well away from. Given the paucity of evidence that academies do actually make a difference to educational achievement, ask Stuart Paulley, why rush head long into them?

Keep Waterhead free of this plan or suffer the consequences at the ballot box.

I suggest you have a chat with the teachers at these rebuilt schools Mr Jameson and ask them how they are coping with the latest cost cutting exercise inflicted by Oldham council, you really are ill informed or in denial if you think everything is hunky dory.


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