At yesterday's full meeting of Salford City Council, councillors were full of praise for Harrop Fold pupils and staff who appear in the Educating Greater Manchester series on Channel 4...
"As a governor of the school I am immensely proud of the pupils and staff there, how they've presented themselves, how they are dealing with challenges and how they've represented this city" said Walkden South Councillor, Richard Critchley, whose ward is near Little Hulton "I really think they've done the community proud and this city proud."
Lisa Stone, Lead Member for Children's Services, echoed the sentiments... "Having seen the first three episodes I have to say I was very proud of the excellent job that the school has done in terms of representing themselves and the city" she said "...especially Jack and Rani who I think have captured the hearts of people across the country.
"I think, importantly, the programme is giving the school a platform to actually raise awareness of some of the additional challenges they face, not just teaching subjects in a classroom" she added "and I think that's been really important for them to show the challenges and some of the support the school has put in place for students and families."
Councillor Stone explained that Harrop Fold is in the top 2% of schools in the country in terms of deprivation, and that 69% of the students who attend the school are eligible for free school meals, compared to a national average of 29%....
"That shows some of the demographics and challenges that they have there" she said "Although the school is rated as good by OFSTED and they've halved the amount of ex-pupils who are not in education, employment or training, which is really positive, in terms of bringing students results in line with the national average that is still proving to be a challenge for them...and that is for a number of reasons including that all the year groups that join the school are usually below the national average in terms of their prior attainment."
Councillor Stone then spoke of the huge deficit that Harrop Fold is still re-paying, after putting in resources to turn the school around after it was judged 'inadequate' by OFSTED.
In 2009, the school had the largest deficit in the country which was forecast to hit £6.7million by 2013... "We've agreed extended payment periods and worked with them to look at various different options, including supporting them in taking part in Educating which I know they were very keen to do in terms of getting some fundraising" she explained.
That deficit is currently £1.7million, the school has to pay the Council around £186,000 a year from its budget, and a JustGiving page has just been launched to clear the debt.
"Our financial position is such that we will not take the school where it could and should be if we continue on the path that we currently follow" states the school fundraising page "Without the debt we could enter the new world for our students and stakeholders…
- Smaller class sizes achieved through the appointment of more teachers
- More computers for all students and wider ICT provision
- More Teaching Assistants appointed to support our most vulnerable students
- Expanded curriculum to include vocational subjects including construction, hair & beauty etc
- Enhanced resources for students including additional text books and extended study materials
- A mini bus
- Access to a wider range of alternative provision for difficult to reach students (we do not exclude students and haven't done for ten years)..."
To donate to Harrop Fold's JustGiving page – click here
Educating Greater Manchester is on Channel 4 Thursday nights at 9pm