Willmott Dixon has been appointed preferred bidder by Oldham Council for its ambitious Academies programme worth around £71m. The deal will see the company’s Oldham-based office construct three academies, with the first starting in September.

Willmott Dixon secured the work following a competitive process under the national academies framework. As part of its ‘local pound’ agenda, Willmott Dixon will invest 40 per cent of the Academies budget within Oldham providing local employment and training. This includes annual work experience placements and providing pupils with development opportunities in professions such as Graphic Design, Quantity Surveying and Structural and Civil Engineering

Anthony Dillon, managing director for Willmott Dixon’s office in Oldham, said, “With our offices literally round the corner, we are absolutely delighted that we can play a key role in helping develop three outstanding new places to learn and develop within our own community.

“As one of the most successful companies in the national framework, we will also be giving Oldham the benefit of our experience in creating over £400 million of academies in recent years.”

The first Academy to be built will be the Oasis Academy, sponsored by Oasis Community Learning, situated at the Brook Mill site, with construction starting in September 2010. This will replace the existing South Chadderton and Kaskenmoor schools, with work set to finish in July 2012.

The programme also includes the new Waterhead Academy, sponsored by Oldham College, at Orb Mill to replace Counthill and Breeze Hill schools, and The Oldham Academy North, the E-ACT sponsored Academy on the current site of Our Lady’s, Royton replacing Grange School.

Councillor Kay Knox, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm the appointment of Willmott Dixon to deliver Oldham’s Academies programme. As an Oldham based company they are uniquely positioned to understand the boroughs commitment to regeneration”

“The aim of the BSF Academies Programme is to provide first class facilities that support learning transformation and develop the aspirations of young people resulting in children achieving a broader range of qualifications to maximise their potential.”

“This has been a long and extremely thorough selection process and we set some very tough criteria for the bidders. Not only did we push them to commit to using local labour and firms, we also asked for educational and work experience opportunities for the young people of Oldham.

“This is an exciting time for all involved and we firmly believe Willmott Dixon will produce high-quality education environments that will become true community facilities that are fully accessible for use by local residents and groups.

Aredi Pitsiaeli Director of Strategic Development for Oasis Community Learning, added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Oldham Council and for being involved in the robust decision-making process.”

“We believe that the appointment of Willmott Dixon will provide a new state-of-the-art building that will great enhance the learning opportunities for our students, as well as for the wider Academy community.

”We are so pleased that the communities we are serving will receive such fantastic facilities, which is absolutely what they deserve.”