Smoke and Mirrors – you decide!

An announcement broke this morning on the school website from the Governors of the school, although I personally believe this would have come from Salford Council and NOT from the Governors themselves, based on the content and words within it.

A quick update to the blog post, having undertaken an interview today with BBC Radio Manchester I thought it would be worthwhile to drop the recording in here to support the message I hoped I got across today and that was all about getting Drew back into Harrop Fold.

 

A big vote of thanks to both Chelsea and Inzy from BBC Radio Manchester for the opportunity to speak out this morning, really appreciated.

The words “These interim leaders, working with the school’s leadership team, will help keep the school moving forward and support pupils and staff while the governors’ investigation is completed.” do not make sense.  Why? Because I do not believe that it is the Governors who are investigating.  Elsewhere, it has been stated that it is Salford Council who are investigating.

So, being quite a sceptical person I decided to do some digging if only to find out what the new interim leader was all about and what good he could bring to the school should Mr Povey not be returning.  As I searched, my blood run cold, not for any reason other than it was a realisation for me that the penny just dropped.  This is what I found out about Damien Owen and the Trust he holds a high position at and what he might be bringing to Harrop …

“An academy trust in Manchester will hold last-ditch talks with unions after staff at its only school passed a vote of no confidence in trustees and threatened to go on strike.”

“At a meeting attended by 164 staff on February 16, employees unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the trustees over the financial management of the school. The National Education Union, NASUWT and Unison have also threatened industrial action, and trust bosses have now scheduled crisis talks to be held next week.”

Damian is currently the Executive Head at Parrs Wood and the above and following comments are all about that school.

“Parrs Wood is currently the only school in the Greater Manchester Learning Trust, which was set up in June 2016. The school was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in 2013, and the governing body made the decision to convert it to an academy in December 2015, despite strong opposition from some staff and parents.”

One of the most worrying pieces I read was … “Trust’s accounts for the year ending August 31, 2017 also show that £989,000 was spent on benefits for the trustees and senior management team for their “services to the academy trust.”

The above info is taken from https://schoolsweek.co.uk/unions-clash-with-big-spending-single-school-trust/

and

Row erupts at Parrs Wood High School over plans to cut jobs

I am very much struggling to grasp precisely what is going on here.  Let’s look at the facts:

  • Mr Povey took over the school when it was at it’s worst – “Harrop Fold is termed by OFSTED as being the worst school in the country”
  • At the last OFSTED inspection, the school was determined to be “GOOD”
  • In 2010 when Povey took over as Head he learned that the debt was £3m
  • To date the deficit has been reduced to £1.5m How?
    • Drew Povey has written a book called Educating Drew, he has donated proceeds form this book to the school to help pay off it’s debts
    • Drew Povey has talked at many organisations up and down the country and his fees for doing so? Well, they were also donated to the school to help pay off debts
    • Drew Povey has engaged with many organisations and partnered with a number of them in asking them to support the school.  One of those organisations is Channel 4 who televised Educating Manchester.  What happened to the monies for the show? They also went into the coffers to reduce the debt
    • Drew Povey has been filmed in interview stating that he had never put the lottery on in his life, he said he was about to start and any money he gets from that will go straight in to the school

In comparison, what do we know about, not just Damian Owen but the Trust under which he operates?

  • Manchester Learning Trust (MLT) only currently have one school under their control
  • Damien Owen is quoted as saying that he is looking to bring more schools under the stewardship of the Trust
  • The Trust and its leaders have recently had a vote of no confidence against them by the 160+ staff at Parrs Wood, backed up by Unions
  • The Trust has spent, in the last financial year almost £1m on senior staff and advisors to the Trust
  • This piece on its own merits speaks volumes – “Staff have “strongly disputed” the need for an executive principal, head of school and finance director for one school at a time of “financial hardship” – The Executive Principal is no other than Damian Owen

What can be drawn form the above points?  Well, you obviously have your own mind and thoughts just as much as I do.  I believe, rightly or wrongly that Salford Council have had plans to move the running of the school in to a Trust and away from Drew Povey and Team Harrop.

And, if I am correct in my thinking then this would explain why the so called “investigation” has been such a long drawn out affair.  This, coupled with the fact that nobody and I mean NOBODY from the council has bothered to engage with parents and carers, nobody has made any intimation about who was coming in until when?  08:30 this morning on the first day back for teachers, the day before the year 7 and other pupils commence their new school year.  That was a despicable act BUT, as I say, I am not surprised.  I am not surprised because it all now makes perfect sense to me, the way this whole farce has been handled is beyond belief.  The way in which Drew Povey and other staff have been treated is disgusting.  The wording of the letter on the school website this morning is astonishing.

I am worried.  I am worried for the sake of the pupils, the staff and the Trust.  Why?  Because it is a car crash waiting to happen.  Parrs Wood – Remember, this is the Trust’s ONLY school under their stewardship at present.  They are forecasted to have £200k worth of financial challenges in FY 2018/19 and yet here we are with their Executive Principal/Head, whatever his title is, drafted in to look after Harrop Fold.  Harrop is a school that has ploughed its and Drew’s money back in to the cash tin, they have not paid exorbitant salaries to staff nor have they squandered sky high fees to advisors. What is going to happen under Damian Owen’s control?  Is money going to continue to come in?  Look at it this way – The Trust that is MLT is not part of Salford Council, they are not part of any council, they are independent.  So, who the hell is paying for the interim Head and the interim Deputy Head’s salaries?  Salaries that MLT will be looking to recoup.  Are Salford Council paying them?  Is the money expected to be found by Harrop?  If so then the debt it has, currently resting at £1.5m will spiral out of control yet again and all of the hard graft and time that Povey has put in will be for nothing!  Even if Salford Council do pay MLT for their services rendered, they will no doubt “tag it on” to the school’s debt anyway.  Who will come running to pay it off then, I doubt there is another Drew Povey standing in the shadows ready to rock up when it all goes belly up.

So, whilst I should be very proud of choosing the right school for my Daughter to be heading in to, whilst I should be brimming with pride and enjoying the first day of my Daughter’s 5 year spree at high school tomorrow, I will instead be meeting with a reporter for BBC Radio Manchester and offering my take on where I believe we at with this sorry state of affairs.  I will be making my feelings known on the subject.  I will be shouting loud and proud and hopefully demonstrating my beliefs and values for a man who has taken this school to higher ground, shouting in support of a school where children can now feel safe and valued and made to feel they are worth something.

This is a school where not all children will get academic results, they won’t leave with 5, 6, 7 or 8 exam results but what they would have left with under Povey’s leadership was self-belief, life skills, respect for themselves and for others.  That is, I believe, very much at risk now.  What story has Damian Owen or MLT got to state?  We are paid the big bucks and therefore we know what is best for you and your school.  I don’t think so Salford Council.  I DO NOT THINK SO!

My next move is to request information from Salford Council under the FOI Freedom Of Information Act about their finances so that I, and other parents can better understand what is funding this ridiculous situation they have put us in.  I will also be questioning their choice of action which has led to removing four members of staff and replacing them with only two.  That is, I believe, a safe guarding issue.  And one that we should all be concerned with.

If any reporters, TV, Radio, Newspapers are looking for a “Parent’s View” then I and a number of others are happy to provide it.  Please feel free to contact me at info@paulfgill.co.uk I will be only too happy to oblige.

To view the notice sent out to parents this morning please click HERE

To read another interesting report on MLT then please click HERE this will give you a good insight into what concerns one of the parents of Parrs Wood has with the Trust

Interested parties looking to save Parrs Wood form overly greedy Directors and Senior personnel are well on the road with websites, Twitter pages, Petitions etc. because they believe that it is wrong to take money from the day to day running of the school and put it in the pockets of *paraphrasing* “fat cats on K codes” as they have stated in one of their online pieces HERE “This all comes at an additional cost, which re-directs money from the everyday running of the school in order to fund the trust and these additional posts.”

My sincere concern here is that the writing is well and truly on the wall.  Harrop Fold is heading he same way as Parr has and I can’t just stand by and let it happen, not when so many are fighting against what is happening down the road in Manchester at Parrs Wood.  Not when they are lining pockets to the tune of £998,000 and it SEEMS to be fully supported and orchestrated by our council.

Thank you

 

 

 

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