Reporter: Stuart Littleford
Work to boost the capacity of a Saddleworth primary school has been given the green light by Oldham Council.
Greenfield Primary School will soon be expanded with the construction of a new two form-entry primary school building.
Oldham Council is responding to an unprecedented rise in the number of children needing primary school places and last year it invested in creating more primary school places across the borough.
A budget provision of £13.5m was made available in March 2014 to deliver a new three form-entry-build primary school for Oldham (on the former Grange School site in Rochdale Road) – and the expansion of primary school places in Failsworth, Hollinwood, Saddleworth and Lees.
Work has already taken place on the expansion of three Chadderton primaries – Mills Hill, Yew Tree and Bare Trees – that can now provide a combined total of 80 new places.
The existing Greenfield Primary School will be demolished and the new school will be built on the school playing fields – converting the existing school site into playing fields.
It is proposed that a planning application will be made for these works in early 2016 – with a target of having the new building completed for September 2017.
This move will ultimately increase the school’s pupil intake from 30 per year to 60 per year.
Cabinet agreed to the proposals when it met earlier this week (Monday, December 14).
Research has found there will be a demand for an extra 140 places in the reception year in the borough by 2017/18 which will need to be accommodated.
The extra pupil places will be introduced incrementally, which means the full amount of pupil places will be reached in over time.
Councillor Shoab Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “With Oldham’s population rising the council has been working hard for a long time, in partnership with schools across the borough, to avoid a shortfall and ensure there are sufficient places for all our children.
“I’m sure this will be great news for parents and staff at Greenfield Primary School and it will go a long way in the future towards enabling pupils to attend the school of their choice.
“This move was the preferred option for the staff and school governors, as it will not only increase school places, but remove potential future issues around building maintenance costs, energy efficiency and risk to the quality of education – as the current old stone built school has parts dating back pre-1900.”
Mike Wood, headteacher at Greenfield Primary School, said: “This is fantastic news and I’m sure the pupils, parents, staff and governors will be delighted with these proposals.
“Last September we were told by Ofsted that we were outstanding in every category. We’re a growing school which can only go from strength to strength, with new facilities enriching the curriculum and providing new, exciting opportunities for the children of Greenfield and surrounding areas.”