Educating Greater Manchester: 'Harrowing' for ex-head

A new series of the TV show starts tonight, but the real drama was happening behind-the-scenes
3rd November 2020, 5:03pm


Educating Greater Manchester: 'Harrowing' for ex-head

A new series of Educating Greater Manchester starting tonight will make "harrowing" watching for the former headteacher of the school it centres on, according to a source close to him.

A new series of the reality TV show returns to our screens tonight when a Year 7 pupil opens up about his battle with dyslexia while a Year 11 pupil explains how he makes £25 a day from his illegal tuck shop.

But arguably the story of most interest to teachers was unfolding behind the scenes while the documentary was filmed, back in early 2018, at Harrop Fold School, in Salford.

It ended in Drew Povey resigning after evidence of off-rolling was found.

A source said: "Drew's got really mixed feelings about the series going out - it's really great to see the kids' stories but on a personal level it's quite harrowing having to revisit what was a really difficult time. He took responsibility for mistakes made and only ever had the best intentions for the kids and the community."

In July of that year, around the time filming ended, Mr Povey was suspended as headteacher for "confidential" reasons - in events that left Channel 4 in doubt about whether it would go ahead and broadcast the new series.

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However today, the broadcaster said: "Now there is enough clarity for us to be able to broadcast the series.

"We want to allow the children that we spent time with to have their stories told. These programmes filmed in 2018 are accurate and fair. At the time of filming and the subsequent events, there were too many uncertainties." 

Two months after his suspension, in September 2018, Mr Povey announced his resignation and revealed the school had been accused of "deliberately off-rolling" students.

While he said it had a "negligible" impact on exam results, and that the school did not gain financially, he accepted full responsibility for the off-rolling "errors".

But the charismatic headteacher, who tonight searches bags after a member of the public claims to have seen a pupil with a knife, said at the time: "This feels very much like a personal vendetta and I hope that by removing myself from the situation that some semblance of normality will return to the school, for the benefit of all."

A month later, in October 2018, the school was placed in special measures following an inspection by Ofsted. The Ofsted report stated: "The school is failing its pupils. Significant and wide-ranging weaknesses have developed over time. These require urgent improvement. There is currently considerable uncertainty concerning its leadership."

A year later, in November 2019, following a special measures monitoring inspection, Ofsted told new headteacher Claire Wright that leaders and managers were "taking effective action towards the removal of special measures".

And in a statement to Tes today, Salford's deputy city mayor, Councillor John Merry said: "The school's new leadership is making great improvements and progress as the latest Ofsted report shows."

He added: "The governors' investigation into serious and wide-ranging issues continued to its conclusion." However, Salford City Council has declined to reveal what the governors' conclusion was.

Mr Povey has since set up a consultancy business and has worked on leadership techniques with the police and NHS as well as with the Welsh Rugby Union and in football management.

Ms Wright was unavailable for comment.

Educating Greater Manchester is airing on Channel 4 at 9.15pm tonight.

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