Our School

Our History

‘Bright Futures’ began as a small charity in 2007. It was created by a group of parents who were seeking improvements to the quality and range of services for children with autism.

In March 2010 Bright Futures secured a ‘start-up’ grant with which to develop ‘special school’ provision in partnership with Saddleworth Preparatory School but when that school closed a few weeks later it became necessary to start from scratch.

We were fortunate, in August 2010, to find  premises in Grasscroft. In March 2011, the new school underwent a successful ‘material change’ Ofsted inspection with the outcome that Bright Futures School was registered with the DfE as a special school for children with autism.

Operating with only one pupil from September 2010, then with only two from September 2011 resulted, by March 2012, in the Charity running up unacceptable debts. At that point the school was taken on by two of the charity’s Trustees as ‘Bright Futures School Limited’ operating as an independent special school with the support of HSBC bank loans.

The school survived  and is now firmly established in Greenfield with  15 pupils funded by Oldham, Tameside, Bury and Rochdale Councils, and over 20 well qualified full-time and part-time staff.

Our Facilities

We Are Providing an Environment for Our Students to Grow & Excel

In February 2020, we moved into our new school in Greenfield, purpose built especially for Bright Futures School and financed by local company Robert Scott and Son.

The school is on one floor and consists of 16 dedicated classrooms. There are two dining areas where pupils meet and eat together at break and lunchtimes, plus a kitchen area suitable for cooking sessions.

Building courtesy of Robert Scott & Son

We are fortunate to have a workshop suitable for art, craft and design / upcycling activities plus an interactive sensory room for pupils to chill and calm if feeling anxious or dysregulated.

Reception is the hub of the school and close by are the staffroom as well as the school office where Zoe, Louise and Lisa  can be found along with Molly our school dog.

In addition, we have plenty of toilets, a shower room, utility area and a medical room.

There is plenty of space outside for pupils to relax as well as engaging in gardening type activities and we hope in the future to acquire play and fitness equipment of a sensory nature.

We are delighted to have a truly stunning building that offers so much space, in such a calm and peaceful environment!

Our BFS Staff Team

Building courtesy of Robert Scott & Son

Our Staff

Zoe Thompson, Proprietor, (BA Hons – Social Policy and Administration) is Head of Development, with responsibilities for staff training, the personal development curriculum, liaison with parents and outside agencies. She has a background in health education. As a fully qualified RDI® (Relationship Development Intervention) Consultant, Zoe uses her knowledge and experience of RDI® for the benefit of pupils at the school.

Louise Whalley (B.Ed (Hons), QTS, NPQH) joined the school as Head of Learning in September 2023. Louise is a fully qualified teacher with over 20 years experience working in a range of mainstream settings, many of which within a Senior Leadership role. Her subject specialisms include English, Maths, RE and Inclusion. She has a passion for learning and working with children and young people. Louise is proud to be the Head of Learning at Bright Futures School and working with such a talented and diverse team who share her vision of ensuring all the pupils reach their potential and empower them by recognising and harnessing their strengths, gifts and talents.

Lisa  (BS Journalism; Level 3 Children and Young People’s Workforce) With more than 10 years of experience in various early years settings, Lisa has nurtured and supported children with a range of needs including autism. Whilst part of a local home-school cooperative, she planned and delivered educational activities across all areas of the National Curriculum for children from early years through to GCSE level with an emphasis on outdoor learning. She helped to organise team-building opportunities for young people whilst supporting them through their Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze and Silver awards.

Lisa has a strong background in creative writing through her previous work as a writer and copy editor for an advertising agency and a corporate magazine. She combines her knowledge of both English and child development with her enthusiasm for environmental studies in her role as a full-time Learning Mentor at Bright Futures School.

Meghan  (TA level 1) has over 6 years of experience working with children with special needs in both mainstream and special school settings. She is also a qualified level 1 swimming instructor along with various qualifications in beauty therapy! Meghan enjoys working in schools and seeing children thrive.

Hayley (BA Honours English, PGCE, QTS) has taught in both mainstream and special school settings since completing her Postgraduate Certificate in Education. Hayley is an Early Years Specialist who has used her knowledge of early development to support many children with complex needs, including autism, during her time as a teacher. Most recently Hayley delivered an award winning sensory program to young children and now uses her experience, knowledge and creativity as a Learning Mentor at Bright Futures School.

Helen is a former owner and manager of a local private day nursery, with 29 years experience in managing staff and children. Helen has had experience with many children with Autism over the years and has worked with the local authorities to get EHCP plans for funding to be in place for children starting reception.  Her Qualifications include: NVQ level 4 in childcare and education, Level 3 A1 Assessors award for students working in the workplace, SENCO training, Paediatric first aid, Safeguarding and safer recruitment. Helen joined BFS in September 2021 as a part time Learning Mentor.

Emily (Teaching & Learning Level 3 NVQ, BA Hons in Politics and Peace Studies, BSL level 1) is a full-time Learning Mentor and has nineteen years experience of supporting children and young people with autism and complex needs. Most of her experience has come from working in a special school and college setting. Emily has also gained experience from working 1:1 as a Personal Assistant supporting children with both complex and medical needs.


Elaine (Level 3 TA)  is a full-time Learning Mentor with experience of working in a special school for children with complex needs and disabilities. She enjoys learning new things and has undertaken training, for example, in Understanding Autism and Epilepsy.

Jody (HLTA and Forest School Level 3) is a full time Learning Mentor. Jody has worked with children and young people with special educational needs for over 15 years. She has worked within a specialist school specifically designed for children with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome for the last 10 years as a special support assistant and is now an HLTA. Jody is also qualified in Health and Social Care and is an ASDAN coordinator.

Hannah (BA Hons in Education and Psychology) is a full-time Learning Mentor who started out as a volunteer. She has previously carried out voluntary placements in primary schools working alongside diverse groups of children. Hannah applies her range of skills while working within the Experiential and Exploratory Stages.

Claire (BSc Honours, PGCE, QTS, MA Inclusive Education) is a fully qualified teacher with over a decade of experience working in a range of mainstream and special school settings. Claire has worked with many children with a range of needs, including autism and is now bringing her knowledge and experience to the Bright Futures Team. Responsible for supporting the delivery of a range of curriculum based activities for pupils, Claire will now work to provide further creative learning opportunities within the ethos embedded at Bright Futures School.

Lisa (N.N.E.B and HLTA) has over 10 years’ experience working with children with complex and profound difficulties, including autism. She now brings her knowledge and experience to the Bright Futures team as a full time earning mentor. In September 2021, Lisa became a middle manager taking an  overview of the curriculum for younger pupils, as well as having a leading role in support of pupils’ EHCPs.

Jo (BA (hons) Costume for the Screen and Stage, PGCE) 

Jo is a fully qualified teacher with over 15 years of experience working in both mainstream and special school settings. Previously working as a Costumier in London’s West End before teaching art and Design, she later specialised in SEN. She uses her experience and enthusiasm for creativity to inspire and motivate pupils.
Jo regularly exhibits her art work in galleries around the country, and has recently been selected as a panel member for Gallery Oldham, so is keen to make the most of this appointment, providing new and exciting opportunities for our pupils.

Eppie (Front line management, Level 3 in Oral Health and Conscious Sedation) is our full time systems administrator, supporting the management team. Eppie has experience of both adults and children with Autism along with other complex medical needs from her time at Manchester Foundation Trust. Eppie is trained in both First Aid and Immediate Life Support. She has managed and organised a large department within the healthcare setting.

Lauren (Level 3 in Education and Training) has previous experience working with children and young adults with mild, moderate and severe learning disabilities, including autism. She has qualifications in health and social care, and health and safety, including first aid.

Molly completed her Apprenticeship at Bright Futures School and is now working as a part-time Learning Mentor using her experience of RDI to support all pupils.


Alex (PGCE) spent 14 years teaching painting and decorating at Oldham College at pre-entry level. Prior to that, he worked for Oldham Council. Most recently, Alex has been working as a Personal Assistant for a local gentleman with autism and he’s now using all his experience as a Learning Mentor within the Bright Futures team.

Stacey (Level 2 Supporting Teaching and Learning with Level 3 SEN) is a full-time Learning Mentor with a wealth of experience working with children and young people across the 5-19 age range in both special and mainstream settings. Her career highlights so far include her role as a Progress Tutor for 16-19 year olds and supporting children with autism in EYFS. She is delighted to be part of the team at Bright Futures School!

Polly (Supporting Teaching and Learning Level 3) Polly recently completed her qualification in teaching and learning and is currently studying for a level 2 in autism awareness. Polly has classroom experience from her time volunteering at a local primary school and works in class four days a week as a learning mentor. Previously Polly had a long career in banking covering many roles in retail and commercial.

Sam (BSc Honours) has worked as a volunteer in a local mainstream primary school and studied a range of science and primary education modules as part of her degree. She is bringing her classroom experience and science subject knowledge to her role as a part-time Learning Mentor at Bright Futures School.

Jayne (BA Children & Young people) and  Mechel (FBFS) supports the staff in school, keeping everyone happy at break and lunchtimes, as well as covering for and supporting staff in sessions with pupils.

Paula (BHSc Hons. Midwifery; Level 3 Diploma Early Years Educator; Level 2 SEND) is a full-time Learning Mentor. Paula spent 15 years working as a midwife with the NHS before becoming a childminder so she could spend time with her own family. She then gained her qualifications in education and worked in a school for children with a variety of special needs before joining the team at Bright Futures School. Paula is passionate about working with our children and gets a great sense of reward seeing them achieve.

In Memory of Dixon Milburn

Dixon, husband of Zoe Thompson died on Thursday 31 August, 2017.

Dixon was highly instrumental in preparing, planning, implementing and giving on-going input into Bright Futures School, as a co-founder with Zoe. Dixon, although often in the background, was also a silent driving force within the efforts to get RDI recognised as an educational intervention within the UK. He always had words of wisdom and knowledge to impart and gave great support to Zoe in all her endeavours.

Those that knew Dixon state he was a ‘very nice man’. Bright Futures School staff capture Dixon’s essence ‘he will be remembered for his dry sense of humour, his patience, calmness and kindness, a genuinely lovely man who was never flustered, always had a quirky tale to tell and offered brilliant support’.

Those whose lives were touched by Dixon truly miss him. Dixon’s legacy lives on within the work that continues to help children and young people with autism at Bright Futures School, within Zoe’s ongoing mission to raise the RDI profile within in the UK and through his sons Philip and Louis.