Family-owned cleaning manufacturer, Robert Scott, has appointed Oldham-based Medlock FRB Limited to build a new school on land next to its head office in Greenfield, Oldham.
Bright Futures School, founded in 2010 by Zoe Thompson and her late husband Dixon Milburn, is an independent school dedicated to helping children with autism from ages five up to 16. The school began with one pupil – Zoe and Dixon’s eldest son, Philip – and by November 2018 had grown to 12 pupils and 15 staff.
The school brings a new approach to autism education by seeking to work with students on the core difficulties at the heart of the condition. These include challenges with emotional regulation, social understanding, perspective-taking and managing uncertainty and unpredictability.
In April 2018, the school was informed its rented premises were to be sold. In June 2018, Daniel Scott, operations director at Robert Scott, learned of their predicament and visited Zoe and the team.
Following consultation with its board of directors, Robert Scott offered to fund the build of a new school for Bright Futures on vacant land opposite its Greenfield mill. The company enlisted the services of chartered architectural technologists, Whittaker Design, to create the design of a new premises to meet the specific nature of its requirements and allow the school to increase its capacity to 15 students.
Plans for the build were approved by Oldham Council in February 2019. At the committee meeting, Saddleworth South Cllr John Hudson said: “I think this is marvellous. It’s great for the metropolitan borough of Oldham that we get applications like this, which are very necessary and much needed.”
With planning permission granted and a contractor now in place, Robert Scott will commence the build week commencing 29th of July 2019 with the aim to complete by February 2020.
While the build is already funded, Bright Futures is now looking to raise £40,000 to equip the school with the latest teaching technology and sensory equipment to aid the development of its pupils.
The school hopes to create a specially designed sensory room that will combine a range of visual, audio and textural stimuli to help the children develop and engage with their surroundings – all within a safe environment that allows them to explore and interact without risk. Bright Futures also hopes to build an external sensory play area to encourage active movement and exercise for the pupils, overlooking the scenic views of Greenfield.
Zoe explains: “Since learning that our rented premises were to be sold, it has been an extremely uncertain time for everyone at Bright Futures School. Robert Scott’s generosity has secured our future and given us the peace of mind that we will be able to continue to provide valuable one-to-one education for children with autism and much needed support for the parents in the local community.
“With work on the new site due to commence, we are now setting our sights on the next major milestone of raising £40,000 to equip the school with state-of-the-art technology and sensory equipment to give our pupils the best facilities we can. We want to reach out to everyone in the local community to ask for their support to help us create a school that is not only desperately needed in the area, but one that can become a leading facility for the region.”
Daniel Scott added: “Zoe, Alison and the team at Bright Futures have made huge sacrifices for a school they wholeheartedly believe in and that means so much to its pupils, their families, and the staff they employ. As a fourth-generation business, we’re very proud to be part of such an encouraging community in Oldham – to be in a position to help secure the future of the school is extremely gratifying for us all. We look forward to seeing the build take shape over the coming months and will help in any way we can to support the fundraising efforts of the school.”
Robert Scott’s marketing co-ordinator, Helen Baker, recently completed an overnight bike ride, covering a distance of over 80 miles from Manchester to Blackpool and has raised over £1,400 towards Bright Futures’ target.
Dan Lewis, project director at Medlock FRB, added: “To have been chosen as the contractor for a project like this, and to be part of creating a new home for Bright Futures School so they’re able to continue the important work they do – especially so close to the place we call home – is very humbling. We cannot wait to get on-site and look forward to supporting the fundraising activity in the coming months.”
Lee Hollinworth, owner of Oldham architectural practice Whittaker Design, concluded: “The appointment of the principle contractor completes the team to deliver the new Bright Futures School. It has been an aim of the project to work with local suppliers, and with the latest appointment of Medlock FRB, also based in Oldham, we’re not only working to reduce the carbon footprint of the scheme, we’re also securing a future for those in our own community.
“This a huge milestone in the project and it’s now time to set our sights on completing the build by the end of the year so that Zoe and her team are able to make a fresh start in 2020.”
For more information or to make a donation, please visit Friends of Bright Futures on Facebook.