In a statement released this afternoon (27/09/18) Salford Council has broken its silence in an attempt to dispel what it says is misinformation regarding the suspension of Drew Povey; the now ex headmaster of Harrop Fold School in Little Hulton.
Councillor Lisa Stone, lead member for children’s and young people’s services, said there was misinformation flying around and the council wanted to clarify some points.
“Obviously we cannot and will not comment on details of the governors’ investigation. Any organisation where an investigation is taking place must, by law, keep it private between the employer and the members of staff involved.
“However there are other questions being asked that we can answer. I hope this clarifies some points and reassures parents that the governors and Salford City Council, which is supporting them, are not conducting some kind of witch hunt and it is not all part of a master plan to see the school academise or fail.
"Serious and wide ranging allegations have been raised and must be investigated thoroughly and carefully. It is a very difficult time for the school, which is why we have brought in experienced temporary leadership to keep the school stable and ensure pupils achieve their full potential, which is our key concern.”
1. Has the school’s debt reduced?
The school has worked hard, in partnership with the council, to reduce their debt to the local authority from over £3 million to £1.4 million despite challenging financial circumstances and cuts in budgets to all council services.
The council has written off £300,000 of the debt to help the school and the school has been involved in a number of activities, supported by the Governing Body and the Executive Headteacher to raise additional funds. The council has been supportive of the activities, has extended the repayment plan twice and has also given the school a five year payment ‘break’. We will continue to support the school to become debt-free.
2. Is it true the council wants the school to academise?
Salford City Council does not support the policy of academisation and has made this clear to all head teachers and governors over the last two years. However, in the interests of pupils, it supports schools when they have chosen to go down that route, and all schools and academies work collaboratively in our family of schools.
Harrop Fold applied a number of years ago to become an academy with Consilium. Ellesmere Park, Buile Hill and Moorside are all part of this multi-academy trust and have strong relationships with the local authority. The Department for Education (DfE) requires schools to have a healthy budget situation before academising.
The government can enforce academisation where a school is judged to be inadequate by Ofsted. This choice of academy trust is outside the control of the local authority and only certain multi academy trusts are eligible to sponsor schools in this situation.
3. Why is the council not being more open about the investigation?
This is a governors’ investigation.
Employment law, which applies to all employers including governing bodies and councils and good employment practice require details of disciplinary investigations to remain confidential. It would be a breach of trust and confidence between an employer and employee to divulge details of a disciplinary investigation. The members of staff who are currently suspended are entitled to, and deserve, confidentiality and a fair and just investigation.
4. There is a rumour that the council offered money to the former headteacher to walk away and keep quiet, is this true?
The council has made no offer of payment to any staff involved in this matter.
5. Is the school due for an Ofsted inspection?
An Ofsted inspection is anticipated as schools like Harrop Fold are inspected at least every five years. Harrop Fold was last inspected in 2013. The council has supported the school by bringing in experienced leadership. This support is paid for by the council.
6. Why did the Council choose GMLT (Greater Manchester Learning Trust /Parrswood High school) to provide the support for Harrop Fold?
This support was arranged over the summer holidays. Greater Manchester local authorities work closely together and a request for interim leadership support at short notice was posted across Greater Manchester. This led to a discussion with leaders of GM Learning Trust as they had the track record, the capacity and willingness to help.
7. When will the next Educating Greater Manchester programme be televised?
A transmission date has not yet been decided.