Don’t talk about the School!

I find myself in a community that is deeply divided about the future of Saddleworth School. Indeed in some circles it has become a topic of conversation that has to be avoided.

Everyone agrees that our children and their teachers deserve and need much better premises than those they have now, so the bone of contention is where, Diggle or Uppermill?

At the time of writing the Education Funding Agency has said it will be putting in a new planning application for the Diggle site.

I feel that we should try to unpick some of the values underlying the various issues surrounding Diggle and think about them in terms of what will be best for the young people.

  • Do we think that the preservation of the ruins surrounding the clock tower is important in order to conserve the industrial heritage?

  • Does turning some fields into sports fields ruin the landscape?

  • Are we convinced that it is impossible to sort out safe access to the Diggle site?

  • Do we believe the rumours circulating about corruption between the developers and Oldham Council members and see opposition to the land swap as a challenge to misuse of power?

  • Would it matter if some children were to spend a significant part of their secondary education on a building site in Uppermill?

Maybe no new school will be built and we could end up losing that vital heart of our community as children are bussed into Oldham.

Whatever your thoughts on these points and the many others which arise, we might like to remember that Methodism has a long history of debating and engaging with issues that are vital to people’s lives: opposition to slavery, the Temperance Movement, the commitment to build a school that is now our Methodist Centre… the list is long.

We must talk about the school. Can we find a way in which to do so?

Alison Brittle

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