Educating Greater Manchester: Behaviour tsar’s warning

TV head Drew Povey's attempt to manage behaviour criticised as 'wacky theatre' after he cut student's headphone cables
17th November 2020, 4:51pm


Educating Greater Manchester: Behaviour tsar’s warning
Drew Povey

The Department for Education's behaviour adviser has criticised the headteacher featured in Channel 4's documentary Educating Greater Manchester for using "wacky, one-off pieces of theatre" to control pupils.

Behaviour tsar Tom Bennett was referring to an incident ">on last week's episode when headteacher Drew Povey cut a student's headphone cables to make a statement that the school was getting tough on headphone use.

Mr Povey told the camera: "Job done. Everyone's talking about it and you can literally see kids saying, 'Put your headphones away, Povey's got his scissors out.'"

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But Mr Bennett told Tes: "Is this likely to have an impact? I think the answer must be 'No' - at least not one you would wish for.

"What is the intended outcome? That students should think the senior staff will assault students and damage their property? Surely not, because that would plant a bomb under any relationships you might be trying to build."

Mr Bennett also tweeted: "Top tip: if you want to persuade students not to wear headphones in school: 1. Communicate this clearly to staff 2. Roll it out to students 3. Mobilise all staff to challenge any students failing this 4. Confiscate on sight. Wacky, one-off pieces of theatre are unlikely to work."

Tonight we see episode four in the new series, filmed in 2018, which is said by a source close to Mr Povey to be "harrowing" for him to watch. 

During the filming at Salford's Harrop Fold School, and unbeknown to most of tonight's TV audience, there was an investigation taking place at the school which resulted in Mr Povey being suspended after off-rolling had been discovered. 

He resigned in September of 2018 stating that he accepted full responsibility for the off-rolling "errors" but stated that they had a "negligible" impact on exam results and that the school did not gain financially.

As the new series started this month, parents have been quick to praise Mr Povey.

But as well as coming under fire from Mr Bennett, Mr Povey has been criticised by some teachers for his approach. Some also highlighted on social media the Ofsted report on Harrop Fold from the month after Mr Povey left, when the school dropped from being good to inadequate and was placed in special measures.

The Ofsted report states that "significant and wide-ranging weaknesses have developed over time", and states that Year 11 pupils had been "deleted from the school roll" shortly before the DfE's annual census in January.

It states: "This type of action means that the examination results of pupils taken off roll temporarily do not appear in school performance tables. In addition, pupils' safeguarding has been compromised by the inappropriate and informal exclusion of pupils and by the deliberate misrecording of attendance."

A source close to Mr Povey said: "As Drew has said on countless occasions, he takes full responsibility for mistakes that were made while he was executive principle. He tried his best and all he ever cared about throughout this was the Harrop Fold kids."

A preview of tonight's episode was unavailable owing to last-minute edits.

Educating Greater Manchester is on C4 tonight at 9.15pm.

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