If Britain is to prosper in the 21st century it needs a well-educated and skilled workforce. To that end it is imperative that the nation invests in its young people. It is vital they have the skills to compete not only with our traditional trading partners, but also the emerging economies of Asia and South America.
That’s why I was delighted to attend the opening of the new Droylsden Academy campus on Manor Road. It’s a truly stunning place, which has all the state-of-the-art facilities necessary to give its pupils the best start in life and the skills needed to compete in a highly competitive global jobs market.
The Academy, which brings together Droylsden High School for Girls and Littlemoss High School for Boys, is built to an open-plan design. It caters for all aspects of the curriculum – arts, sciences and sport – and provides a welcoming and inspirational environment where it’s a pleasure to study and teach. There is plenty of light and air. The whole aspect is a million miles from the school buildings people of my age remember.
And this is only the start. Work will soon begin on phase two, which involves demolishing the old high-school building to allow the completion of the 3G all-weather sports pitches, playing fields and landscaped areas.
The project, launched as part of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, has cost £29 million, which I consider a modest sum given the dividends it will reap. Youngsters throughout Tameside and England are benefiting from BSF, but as a Droylsden councillor I take special pride in the knowledge that my town’s young people can now enjoy the very best educational facilities.
Before I was elected executive leader of Tameside Council in 2010, I held the economic development brief within the cabinet. As a result of that experience I am only too well aware of the challenges that our youngsters face as they set out in life.
Top-class facilities like Droylsden Academy will give them a tremendous advantage.