The future is definitely bright for this school

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 17 September 2021

Oldham’s mayor praised a school for “pushing the boundaries” for children with autism when she cut the ribbon to open the brand new site in Saddleworth.

Cllr Jennifer Harrison, speaking at Bright Futures school in Greenfield, said: “This is the only school in the country to secure funding through statutory Health and Care Plans, enabling parents to work in partnership with school staff on the core difficulties at the heart of autism. 

“This is key because most cutting-edge research shows parents are crucial to this process.

"It’s not something that can be left solely to schools.

“I know it’s been a long, often arduous journey to get to where you are today.

"It’s required courage, tenacity, belief and hard work. 

“I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved: school staff, parents and students, for fighting to secure this provision, for having ambition for the future and I look forward to seeing where your journey will take you.”

In June 2018, Bright Futures School was located in a domestic property in Grasscroft, when the owners put the property on the market.

The school recognised this major threat to its future and appealed to locals in their bid to relocate to a suitable property in the area.

Local businessman Daniel Scott, from Robert Scott cleaning company, responded and offered to build a new school on a plot of derelict land opposite their mill in Greenfield.

Zoe Thompson, Head of Development and Proprietor of the school, said: "We couldn't believe it.

"What a magnificent gesture. 

The Mayor cuts the ribbon to officially open the school

“Of course, we said yes please... and in February last year, we moved into a beautiful, purpose-built building.

"We feel so lucky and are eternally grateful to the directors at Robert Scott."

The school's PTA, Friends of Bright Futures School (FBFS), raised more than £50,000 to fund a sensory room, a playground area with climbing frame for the younger children, a willow dome for older pupils and outdoor gym equipment.

Alison Hughes, Head of Learning, said: "We have a lot to celebrate and a lot of people to thank, which is the focus of our official opening. 

“We are really grateful to all the companies and individuals who have supported us."

The school is currently piloting a new social communication initiative with staff working with one of the pupils in the home during part of the school week. 

This enables staff to model for parents how to change their communication and interaction style in order to reduce the severity of their child’s autism. 

The social communication work is reinforced in school and mirrors the development of typical children.

The approach is strongly influenced by the thinking and research behind the autism interventions that meets all the criteria in NICE guidelines for interventions seeking to work on core autism difficulties.

The school presented a specially framed picture they had made to Mr Scott, who also received a Certificate of Achievement from the Mayor.

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