Far cry from rain-soaked rooftops of Weatherfield

2nd March 2001 at 00:00
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Isn't that the home of famous ex-teacher Ken Barlow?

Yes - Salford's rows of terraced houses were the inspiration for the fictional Weatherfield in the soap Coronation Street. And yes, for those old enough to recall, the Street's resident Lothario Ken Barlow taught in the Sixties and Seventies - that is when he wasn't chasing the headmaster's daughter or pursuing pupils' mothers. He left teaching in the mid-Seventies to become a manager at a local warehouse.

By 'eck! Ahead of his time then?

Yes - but just think - he might have been a head of his school by now if not for his fractured career path and personal life. Any idea how many affairs he's had?

Get off that Coronation Street website! What about Salford?

Sorry - yes, Salford. Don't ever call it "That place on the outskirts of Manchester." Local people get very upset. Salford is a city in its own right - it's been a metropolitan council since 1974 - and it's working hard to shake off its image of urban deprivation, high youth unemployment and crime.

On the other side of Salford there are pockets of relative affluence and much development, like Salford Quays - a big regeneration of the city's dockland.

Are there many vacancies in schools?

The teacher shortage is beginning to bite in Salford. The city council has had problems recruiting newly qualified teachers an is short of supply teacher cover. In secondary schools, there are shortages in modern languages and English.

What's the LEA like?

School standards are rising faster than anywhere in the UK and the education department is well-run, according to OFSTED.

Salford City Council is very Old Labour and says it has had a long-standing commitment to education. Although it spends above Government-recommended levels, inspectors said it should pass on more of its budget to schools.

Salford has 86 primary schools, and 17 secondaries, seven special schools, four pupil-referral units and two sixth-form colleges. It has an above-average number of beacon schools, but six schools have required special measures since inspections began.

Much to do after school besides a pint down the Rovers Return?

Yuppie Salford Quays couldn't be further removed from the rain-soaked rooftops of Weatherfield. There's the Lowry performing arts centre, and a new Imperial War Museum due to open. And Salford's close to Manchester with its theatre, music and club scene.

And house prices?

Generally affordable. A three-bed semi in Swinton costs around pound;68,000. Or you can rent a furnished two-bed apartment in Salford Quays for pound;600 a month.

Any famous sons or daughters?

Actors Robert Powell and Albert Finney, footballer Ryan Giggs, broadcaster Alistair Cook.

Martin Whittaker

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