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HARROP FOLD HEAD SLAMS ‘PERSONAL VENDETTA’ OF SALFORD CITY COUNCIL
 

Star date: 19th September 2018

DREW POVEY ACCUSES SALFORD COUNCIL OF 'HEAVY HANDED' 'VENDETTA'

"I'm speaking up for myself but also all the leaders who have been in touch to say the same happened to them #TakeAStand..." Drew Povey

Drew Povey, the Executive Head of Harrop Fold in Little Hulton, has resigned from his post, slamming Salford Council's "heavy handed approach" while investigating 'administrative errors' at the school and accusing it of a "personal vendetta".

In an open letter to the school's governors, Drew Povey writes that he refuses to walk away from the school with a settlement and accept a gagging clause.  So he's gone public...to #TakeAStand.

Full details here...


Salford is littered with people who feel they have been badly treated by the Council but have been gagged, either through contractual agreements or because they are still employed by the Council and daren't speak out for fear of 'bringing the Council into disrepute'.*

Over the years the Salford Star has spoken to councillors, ex-councillors, employees, ex-employees and, indeed, head teachers (not too far from Harrop Fold School) who have told of truly shocking issues but just couldn't go 'on the record' for fear of what might happen. Indeed, the Salford Star believes that there is a culture of fear and secrecy pervading the city that keeps everything under wraps at the 'transparent' Council.

Leonard Cohen once wrote a stunning song called Anthem, with the much quoted line 'There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in'. Yesterday, a bit of light was shone on Salford Council by Drew Povey, Executive Head at Harrop Fold School, as he accused the authority of a "heavy handed approach" and pursuing a "personal vendetta" against him.

In a letter to his chair of governors, Anne Boyson, released on Twitter, Drew Povey writes that he is "at a loss to understand the 'heavy handed' approach adopted by the Council, which appears to have completely ignored the best interests of the students, staff and school...My overall feeling is that Salford City Council are determined to pursue me personally, with the end goal of removing me as Executive Head...

"They appear to have assumed guilt on my part from the outset, and have brought significant pressure on you and the governing body to accede their demands" he adds "...You will be aware that it has been suggested previously that I should resign and accept a financial settlement to 'walk away'. Any such settlement would inevitably require me to agree to various confidentiality undertakings – otherwise known as 'gagging clauses'. As you may also be aware, the use of such clauses by the NHS has recently been heavily criticised...

"...This feels very much like a personal vendetta" he explains "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..."

The Twitter release of the letter also came with the statement from @drewpovey: "The time has arrived where I can no longer sit quietly under the threat of 'you cannot comment or you will breach your code of conduct'. I'm speaking up for myself but also all the leaders who have been in touch to say the same happened to them #TakeAStand..."

Within the letter, Drew Povey recounts his personal 'tireless' work to reduce the £3million+ debt of the school, halving it to £1.6million through fundraising, donating proceeds from his book and via Channel 4's Educating Greater Manchester series which he estimates to bring in a further £100,000 for the school.

He also answers what he understands to be the allegations by the Council against him...that Harrop Fold was 'off-rolling' pupils, to which "I am fundamentally opposed and condemn it as a practice".

'Off-rolling' happens in loads of schools and colleges, where students are removed from the official 'roll' to make the statistics for attendance or exam results look better. OFSTED is currently investigating the practice.

In his letter Drew Povey states that 'administrative errors' in recording attendance, exclusions and home schooling involved five pupils in 2018, and three in 2016 and 2017, representing 0.5% of the school population.

In an Annex to the letter he explains more fully that the students "were originally coded as being 'off-roll' and when this was identified as being incorrect, they were immediately reinstated...

"While we accept an error was made by us, it is also perhaps worth noting that despite having a statutory duty to check this data in each of the three years, it would appear that Salford City Council had overlooked these errors as well" he adds.

He explains that the school has a 15%-20% cohort of 'managed moves' and pupils with learning difficulties and "if we were in the business of 'massaging results' we would surely be looking to this much larger group of students to boost our exam results...Refusing to take 'managed moves' – or having a different approach to excluding pupils – would, for example, have a much more significant impact than the very small number of students that were coded incorrectly..."

The other allegations cited are that the school was deliberately encouraging parents to home school 'difficult' children, which he denounces as "completely untrue", and that the school was inappropriately coding students who are sent home for poor behaviour. These, he states, were not recorded as formal exclusions "as it is always done in agreement with the parents – unlike formal exclusions...

"These errors are, I have no doubt, being replicated in secondary schools up and down the country" he writes "I take full responsibility for these errors...but I do not believe they constitute grounds for me to be pursued in the way that I have been, with what appears to be a complete disregard for the damage caused to the school, its pupils, the local community and the Governing Body..."

Finally, Drew Povey accuses the Council of wasting money with the investigation and bringing in additional staff to cover at the school... "Surely a better, more effective way to spend this money would be to contribute to paying off the outstanding debt", he writes, offering to work "unpaid" to support the school until the situation is stabilised.

Lots of parents of pupils and ex-pupils are continuing to support the suspended staff...One parent tweeted "Absolutely disgusted by Salford council's behaviour and treatment of you. My oldest did well at the school and my brother has a degree in something he loved doing at harrop thanks to Ross."

Another tweeted; "I have no words!...Such sad news. The children of Harrop need an inspirational leader like you and will be lost without you. Pity the corrupt system can't recognise this. Hold your head up, stay strong and be all of the things you tell the rest of us to be...Lots of luck x"

And yet another tweeted: "A sad day. Well done for dragging this into the light. Good luck with whatever you do next..."

Leonard Cohen would certainly be proud of Drew Povey!

Salford City Council refuses to be held to account by the Salford Star and hasn't responded to interview requests or questions from this publication for around five years.

Elsewhere, however, Councillor Lisa Stone Executive Lead Member for Children's and Young People's Services at Salford Council, who, last year praised school staff and pupils during a full meeting of the Council**, issued a statement..."In my experience governors do not launch investigations and suspend senior members of staff for mere administrative errors...This is an in-depth and wide-ranging investigation into many serious allegations and it will continue in the interests of the school, pupils, parents and the members of staff who remain suspended. The governing body is trying to reach a conclusion as quickly as possible. It is in no-one's interests to rush through something so serious."

* Nine Thousand Salford People Gagged by Council – click here

** Salford Councillors Proud of Harrop Fold – click here

See also previous related Salford Star article...Harrop Fold Shuts As Parents and Pupils Protest Head Teacher Suspension – click here

fletcherclifton wrote
at 05:56:23 on 21 September 2018
Bob the regular thinks there will be a big payout and an apology. No. The authority have gone by the book; if serious allegations are made they are duty bound to investigate, and to suspend the individual(s) while the investigation is taking place. They have not defamed him nor made any statements about what is being investigated . At no point have they stated that he is guilty of anything. If the allegations are eventually found to be unfounded he would have been reinstated and able to carry on with statements that he is not guilty of any misdeeds. But he has decided to resign and make allegations about the conduct of the local authority. He cannot claim anything from them and he can’t even hope for his job back as he left it of his own accord. To stay quiet and await (on full pay by the way) the results would be to act professionally. His actions are grossly unprofessional. In addition this comment about Mr. Povey, it would be sensible for those trying to justify or condemn actions, by Mr. Povey, of which they are ignorant to restrain themselves and await the outcome.
 
fletcherclifton wrote
at 20:43:16 on 20 September 2018
When you are suspended you are supposed to keep away from the school and not contact governors, staff or pupils. You are also not supposed to make public statements. Other than a basic statement announcing suspension, the authority will keep quiet too. Mr. Povey has resigned and so 'cleverly' has got around these rules, but he certainly will not be allowed back to 'help out', even in a voluntary capacity. Imagine the strife and conflict such a situation would cause in the school. It's worth noting that the other suspended teachers are making not public statements.
 
Marc wrote
at 20:42:50 on 20 September 2018
The sad thing in all this is that the kids really liked him, and yes he did do well for the school to start with, but then, as happens so often, people get a bit star struck and they place more emphasis on their media career, which is fine, but don’t then start blaming the council and accusing them of a witch hunt. The governors are in charge and they obviously raised their concerns about things.
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 20:42:17 on 20 September 2018
Arnold, I did miss the bit about the resignation, I was a bit tired the other night. I thought he was still just suspended. If you remember, there was once another guy at the council, who resigned, and still got a payout,and something about his car as well.There will be a big payout in this case, and an apology. If they have offered already, there will be more coming,believe me.
 
Arnold Rimmer wrote
at 17:37:00 on 20 September 2018
@Bob - he resigned not made redundant so the council would have paid him a total of £0. For some reason he seems to think he'd be allowed back voluntarily even though the investigation is ongoing. I thought he was meant to be smart?
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 17:35:40 on 20 September 2018
I admit that I like to mouth off about our council at each available opportunity.If I am wrong, I will be the first to admit it.Marc raises a point, and it sounds like he is closer and more knowledgeable than me.I based my understanding of this school ,is that it is in an area where people are poorer than most, and that its achievements are much higher than you would expect in such an area. I base this on what I have read in this journal over the last year, and comments by councilors, again in this journal.Is Marc right or wrong? I ask other readers ,closer and better informed than me, to comment.
 
Marc wrote
at 10:23:02 on 20 September 2018
Didn’t do too well at school Bob? You talk nonsense. The school hit rock bottom, and who was in charge? Mr Povey. Jumping before he was pushed won’t get him any redundancy and running to the press every two minutes before the investigation has finished with the sole intention of trying to detract from the issues is a good way to make himself look a fool when the facts are established. His leadership talks probably won’t go down too well when that happens.
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 12:58:03 on 19 September 2018
This guy knows what he is doing and so do the legal team at Salford council. It is them that have to straighten out all the cockups made at clown hall. Headteachers are on £120 000 a year I am told perhaps more. At a guess, they must have offered him a years pay , and 2 years say for redundancy. thats about £360k. He is obviously a man who values his reputation more than money. He is obviously a clever guy as most teachers are. By his actions he has shown how certain he is of his case. I hope he takes Salford council for every penny he can, and whats more, get the apology.Salford council do not deserve nice guys like this man to be headteachers in Salford. I would much prefer people like Katherine Birbalsingh to be in charge of our schools. Dear me, I cannot imagine how much shit she would give these lefty morons at our town hall.
 
Off Rolling? wrote
at 12:57:58 on 19 September 2018
So whats this guy done? Excluded a few yobs and cocked up the registers? The only thing that needs off rolling, is the heads off some of these little yobs in our schools. For all intents and purposes, this chap has done a great job in one of our poorer boroughs. I can just imagine our mayor trying to teach a class full of the kids I went to school with.
 
life is loud wrote
at 12:57:39 on 19 September 2018
Well said its got nothing to do with anyone else except the people involved
 
fletcherclifton wrote
at 11:35:14 on 19 September 2018
Mr. Povey accuses the council of pursuing a personal vendetta against him. Not too personal though, as other senior staff were also suspended [were they his brothers, who also held senior positions at the school?]. When there are serious allegations, whatever their nature, it is the regular practice, throughout education, to suspend the subjects of the allegations. Then the authority does not make public details and neither should the subject. Mr. Povey, has decided to circumvent this practice and himself make allegations which the investigating authority will and cannot refute without disclosing details which might prejudice the investigation and possibly Mr. Povey and his colleagues. I have personal knowledge of such a practice, as a teaching colleague and friend was suspended when allegations were made. The authority made no details public, and neither did my colleague, although he spoke to me and a few personal friends who all kept publicly silent. There is already in the media, much conflation of this issue with Salford Council’s unsatisfactory actions in other fields. This is emanating from those who do not know the details of the allegations and little, if any, knowledge of what takes place in schools. They should ‘hold their tongues’ until the investigation is concluded and any action, if any, is taken.
 
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