Star date: 22nd March 2013


Springwood Primary School in Swinton, which educates some of the most vulnerable children in Salford, is to axe over seven members of staff in a proposed `re-structure'.

The school has, we understand, four Assistant Heads, a Finance Manager and a Business Manager – but, under the proposal, the school will slash staff working closely with the children.

Full details here…

When Ofsted produced its report on Springwood Primary last December it was pretty scathing, declaring that the school `required improvement', particularly in its standard of teaching.

When Ofsted went back for a follow up visit last month it reported that "morale and confidence of teachers, especially those in positions of responsibility, is said to be improving" and that a review of the organisation of the school was underway. Staff and parents have now seen the results of the review and are not happy.

The equivalent of 7.5 support staff who work closely with some of the most vulnerable children in Salford are to be axed, along with other changes to the school day and school transport staffing.

Ofsted reported in February that "Hard decisions about staffing levels are anticipated as the school is approaching an unsustainable financial position".

But trade unions and parents are furious that staff working with the children are to be cut while, they understand, the school has a full time Finance Manager, four Assistant Heads…and the Business Manager is about to be made full time.

A joint statement from Diane Ogg, Assistant Branch Secretary, Salford City UNISON and Steve Noble, GMB, slates the school's attitude…

"Targeted cuts make every child a loser and the vulnerable children of the school will bear the brunt of this proposal if allowed to go through unopposed. This proposal needs scrapping and sending right back to where it came from. Parents should be concerned about these potential changes as to what detrimental effect it could have on their children.

"The service at this school has to be retained, it is critical for the development of the children not to lose vital staff who provide an extremely specialised and important service which will not be replaced.

"So a decision has to be made against the threat of any changes and support these young people who suffer severe behavioural and physical conditions. It is not too much to ask?  Education is everyone's human right, even those who cannot speak for themselves."

Diane Ogg adds that the cuts at the school are not about improving teaching or what is best for the children… "These cuts are financially driven, the latest Ofsted report makes no reference to cutting jobs. We have to ask the question 'Why always are the most vulnerable children affected'?

"Clearly a loss of jobs will have a negative impact both on morale and the quality of service provided to these deserving children" she adds "We urge the public to join with our members and the unions to get the governor's to re-consider…Every child matters – don't they?"

Springwood Primary School Headteacher, Lesley Roberts, wouldn't comment on making the School's Business Manager full time, or on the full time Finance Manager and four Assistant Heads, but told the Salford Star… "We are nearing the end of a consultation period, looking at options to restructure all levels of staff, as recommended to us by our latest Ofsted report.

"The school governors are in full support of this approach which looks to rearrange the number of staff whilst actually enhancing the quality of education we provide" she added "Any changes made will not have a negative impact on the pupil's education, with the current proposal looking at reducing 7.5 equivalent support posts from the 119 staff.

"We already have 21 firm applications for voluntary retirement or severance, which means there won't be any compulsory redundancies. All unions have been fully included in the consultation alongside support from the council's human resources which is offering support around voluntary severance options."

The Star also asked John Merry, Salford Council's Assistant Mayor for Children and Young People, for a comment but he didn't respond.

There was to be a Public Meeting Against Springwood Primary School Cuts
this Saturday 23rd March but it has now been postponed. As soon as we have details of a future date we will print them.

To read the Ofsted reports – click here

UPDATE: 2:30pm 22nd March - `Untruths and Misinformation'

Without answering specific questions that the Salford Star asked him, John Merry has sent over a letter that was also handed out to parents and carers of children at the school.

In the letter, John Merry refers to "untruths and misinformation" being circulated about Springwood, without giving any specific examples.

It appears that the Mayor and his Assistant Mayors are jumping into George Orwell's 1984...with every uttering in Salford branded `untruths and misinformation', apart from what Salford Council and its representatives judge to be otherwise (see previous Salford Star article for more examples - click here)

Here's the letter...

Dear Parents/Carers
I am increasingly concerned about some untruths and misinformation that is being circulated about Springwood Special School.

Springwood has a very important role in providing the very best education for children who have a wide range of special needs and additional requirements.

The council and governing body are in full support of the head teacher in making changes to move the school towards becoming outstanding.

In October 2012 the school was inspected by Ofsted and was judged as requiring improvement. Under previous and less demanding inspections this would have meant the school was satisfactory.

However, we recognise with the governing body and headteacher, that there are some major areas to improve and the school leadership are working really hard to achieve this.

This is being supported by regular follow up visits by Ofsted, council officers and outstanding school leaders from other areas. There is a comprehensive improvement plan and support team in place to ensure the children in Springwood get the very best education going forward.

The Ofsted report was very clear about the changes that need to be made for Springwood to move forward finding that “a very small group of staff are set in their ways and resist change; this and high staff absence, is getting in the way of faster improvement.”

We have to support the school in making these changes, as the Ofsted report identifies, and cannot shirk our responsibilities here.

I am confident that the steps being put in place by the governing body and head teacher will provide the necessary structures to move the school to becoming outstanding for our Springwood children. Nothing less will do.




Taylor Kerr wrote
at 08:08:22 on 31 August 2016
Hi my name is taylor kerr I was a student at springwood primary school from 2003 till 2011 and the members of staff are wonderful and I had the best time there but after hearing about the horrible treatment recantly I just think is cruel.I hope things change for the better and I hope the members of staff get treated better too.
Mason Riley (former student) wrote
at 07:13:54 on 18 November 2015
I started school in about 2006 (till about 2013)and it was all well and good until I left and then I started to hear bad reports of the primary school I loved and I was like 'What,no!' the school was awesome, I was well known by staff and students, the staff were great (apart from a select couple which were good but bad at the same time?)and it was a very friendly enviroment to be in.
Kenneth w mckelvey wrote
at 06:47:54 on 16 July 2013
I would like to know why Salford council are offering top wage jobs. Yet we the people of weaste are paying top rate council tax and cannot get the place cleaned up/ if it was the Quays or higher broughton /or Worsley our problem would be dealt with forthwith
Concerned parent wrote
at 22:15:52 on 25 April 2013
I have two daughters who have both attended Springwood, my eldest attended within the first year of it opening and my youngest attends at present. My first impression of the school, which I retained for many years is that it was a happy atmosphere and very welcoming. The staff have always been excellent and given everything to meet the children's needs and always went the extra mile. That atmosphere was fostered by the excellent management of the school by the head (and subsequently the next head) knowing the children and understanding there needs. They also knew how to treat people. They were also present and visible around the school. I remember when the Korean world cup was on and matches were televised at 8am. The head arranged breakfast clubs for the children and staff to watch the games. It created great excitement and activities were designed around the event. One morning I went in to find the head behind reception on the floor with the kids watching the game. She understood the children and what made them tick and she utilised excellent staff skills in a way that motivated them and generated energy around the school. I rarely heard of staff being off sick and, indeed, staff came in even when they were not well. The current management should learn from the past. It is about looking at what you have and utilising your resources effectively. The most important resource is your staff with the experience and knowledge of the children's needs, and relationships that have built up over time. If you lose these you lose the school and the children suffer. Shame on the management.
Concerned wrote
at 12:54:57 on 08 April 2013
All the comments on here are very worrying and certainly show that the head teacher needs replacing, but the question is HOW? Its all well and good coming on here saying what is happening at Springwood, but nothing is coming from it. Lesley Roberts is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and must be exposed. Parents, staff and unions MUST work together to expose this nasty piece of work for the sake of the children. Headteachers must never be dictators, they need to listen to everyone and help make a good environment for our kids to be educated in. This is not a witch hunt, I merely have the kids best interests at heart, something that Lesley Roberts does not.
at 11:17:23 on 04 April 2013
Miss-management of the school budget, thats a a laugh .Around 6 new staff taken on after Christmas 2012 and in February 2013 being told the school budget is in a mess and need to get rid of around 7 staff. Last in first out, but no, not with Lesley Roberts, she does her own thing. Maybe shes taken too much of a pay rise, headteachers can award themselves pay rises as long as the Board of Govenors agree,all are very friendly with her. The staff that stand up to her and fight for what is right are the ones she is trying to get rid off.There talk going around school after Lesley Roberts had a meeting with Teachers, that she has asked them to listen and watch all the assistants carefully and report back to her anything they say against her new proposals, how unprofessional is that.Freedom of speech, but not in her school.Shes needs to go,she has dragged the school down.
former parent wrote
at 05:22:36 on 04 April 2013
For ten years Springwood school was a very happy school,with dedicated staff that loved working with the most vulnerable children in Salford. There was very few staff that either left or were off sick because all staff were happy and content working in a school they were extremely proud to be associated with.Staff were experts in the areas they worked in,and were happy to work alongside parents to help them achieve the best for their children at school and at home. Since the new head teacher arrived she has gradually eroded the expertise of staff, constantly moving them around to work in different areas of the school. This school has had some fantastic staff who have left over the past two years because they felt they were being constantly bullied by the new head who, by her own admission, wouldn't listen to anyone who didn't want to move to an area of school they were unfamiliar with. The school is now run on the same lines as a mainstream school,which of course it isn't.The staff are under constant pressure from the senior management and this is why most of the staff are stressed out all of the time. The support staff are the backbone of the school,and hearing that they all have to apply for their jobs due to the proposed staffing restructure is an insult to them all,they do an excellent job every day assisting in the children's education and looking after all their needs. Again its the lowest paid staff that suffer and stand to lose the most. Can Lesley Roberts answer these questions:- Why does the school have to lose so many jobs when it can't operate fully with all the staff it has at the moment,and why has the number of staff constantly off sick risen dramatically since the new head took over. Why have the staff who escort the children to and from school got to lose their jobs and a considerable part of their monthly income when they are some of the lowest paid already. Good luck to all the support staff,you are all innocent people who have to lose out big time because of the school's mismanagement of the school's budget.
Salford Tax Payer. wrote
at 13:28:49 on 02 April 2013
With due respect to John Merry, has he ever been in springwood school? I would say no he hasn't. He doesn't see or here whats going on in that school.Ive been told by a parent that Lesley Roberts is never there, she is always out at some meeting or other with an assistant head,probably getting free lunches at the expence of the tax payer.4 days at the Marriot, what for? Surely if she was qualified enough to get the job, why is she going on meetings or training days out.Its a joke paying head teachers and assistant heads large amounts of money when they are always out of school.I suggest to John Merry to visit the school and ask the staff whats going on and do not take what Lesley Roberts says is the thruth,staff are fed up of her bullying ways and she needs to go, she has run the school down, just so she can pick it back up and get a pat on the back and no doubt a large pay packet when she retires.The sooner the better.She must go so the school can get back to how it was,a lovely school who looked after the most vulnerable children who live in Salford and need the best care and Education Salford can provide.
A very worried parent wrote
at 10:35:26 on 02 April 2013
It appears to me that the school was a good school until Lesley Roberts took over as head teacher.It has always had a good reputation but not anymore.Staff are leaving all the time since she became head teacher.Ive heard about teachers crying and how stressed assistants are.How can the school reduce their staffing levels when I here about how they are short staffed all the time. They cancel swimming because short staffed,the children miss out because of staffing issues.If they get rid of seven assistants and there are lots of absences, how can the school provide the care and education our children deserve. The school has changed for the worse since the new head took over,she needs to go and go now before it gets worse.Also the Board of Governors should resign for letting it get this bad.
Volunteer wrote
at 10:45:53 on 31 March 2013
Its wrong whats happening in the school,all teaching assistannts have to reapply for their jobs, also staff who have put in for early retirement have only done so because of the new contracts in which they have to do more hours and some staff are beibg downgraded if no higher roles are left,this has to be unfair when they are qualified to a higher level.The staff are all good and dedicated to their roles within the school and they give their best to all the children and more.The children all seem happy and its all down the the assistants, the school couldn't do without. There is far to much management in the school,two deputy heads, four assisatant heads but from what I see and wittness its the teachers and assistants that do all the hard work. How can they reduce the staffing levels when they need volunters to help in the school. They are short staffed all the time due to a very high sickness records,I believe down to stress in a lot of cases.The chidren deserve the very best the school can give and that cant be done if reducing staff.
Parent wrote
at 10:45:35 on 31 March 2013
Springwood school has always had a good reputation, the teachers and assistants work really hard and I feel are very commited to their roles.But recently,Ive heard staff absence is bad due to stress and I believe around 15 staff have left since July last year, no retirements, but all seeking other employment.Why have so many staff left since the new head took over? Why does there need to be change when everything was good, previous ofsted reports say this.We need the dedicated assistants that look after our children and not all the management that they have in the school.The school woulndt cope without all the lovely assistants that work there.
extremely cross parent wrote
at 10:44:17 on 31 March 2013
My son attends this school, and it was in my view an excellent school. Lesley Roberts has managed in a short space of time to destroy all that was good about Springwood. It should be her that leaves (without any more than just the basic salary she is owed). Every time I have been into school lately the info board has said Lesley out, so she is never there, she refers to the children as gorgeous (and yes they all are) but it is very obvious that she doesn't know their names! She is at Springwood solely for her own personal selfish reasons. She is not there for the children. What do we want? Roberts out! When do we want it? NOW for the sake of our children My biggest thanks go to the support and teaching staff who have continued to do all they can for my son during what must be an awful time
Volunteer wrote
at 10:57:59 on 26 March 2013
It was obviouse to me that Teaching assistants were responsible for most if not all of the personal care, tube feeding, trackiostamy care, moving and handling and behaviour amongs much more. They are the staff who spend the most time with the children each and every day. These staff are the lowest paid! It's time something is done to support the people who actually know and care for each and every child. Those children deserve the best and nothing less. Problems lie with the management, it is their job to MANAGE not pass the blame onto others.
at 22:32:22 on 25 March 2013
i agree that the blame should lie with senior management but as usual the lower paid suffer the brunt.
A. Helper wrote
at 09:21:33 on 25 March 2013
It needs to be highlighted that some TAs escort the children to/from school this vital job is also under threat. The support staff do a brilliant job, morale is low but their dedication to the children is second to none. These lovely kind people deserve to be treated with decency and respect.
s. tong wrote
at 07:20:14 on 25 March 2013
in a football club if the team are playing poorly the senior manager is sacked.surely it is the job of a leader to inspire and to help team members who are unable (for lots of reasons) to envisage the positives of change.a good leader ends with a POSITIVE not a negative and does not constantly berate the team, who are most likely to be trying to do their best especially when 1 in 10 of the team are absent and moral is low.after reading the Ofsted report it seems to me that the blame lies solely with senior management and the teaching staff who should be directing their classroom assistants,those who are to be downgraded and their contracts rewritten.as per usual failures at the top are felt most keenly by the people at the bottom.please don't forget that these are the people who wipe bottoms,feed the most vulnerable children and make sure they are comfortable and safe...
Angry Parent wrote
at 20:46:35 on 23 March 2013
My son attends this school and has severe learning difficulties. I have nothing but respect and praise for the support staff that work at this school. I am very aware and understand completely that they have a very emotional and physically demanding job. I am seriously worried about these proposals and will do everything I can to support the staff at Springwood. Serious questions need to be asked. Why have we not be informed sooner? Surely as a parent we deserve the right to know what exactly is going on in this school.
Gill Lambert wrote
at 16:09:18 on 23 March 2013
I taught at Springwood for ten years - always working with children with Profound and Multiple difficulties. In my 2012 letter of resignation I wrote: " The 'ideal' lessons I am being guided towards take little account of the children's needs for positioning, feeding and personal care... Many colleagues are becoming demoralised ... When Modern Foreign Languages are practiced and moderated, I think - yes, but what about TLC (tender loving care)? ... I have loved the children at Springwood and the people with whom I have worked most closely have been second to none." The most vulnerable children and most dedicated staff - they deserve care and support.
at 16:08:35 on 23 March 2013
What people need to be thinking about is the children that are already suffering at this school. Why are there so many members of staff off sick? And does this result in the childrens well being not being looked after properly. The staff will be doing there best in probably the worst of circumstances and staff morale must be on the floor. For everyone's sake this needs sorting and stopping
at 16:07:41 on 23 March 2013
Meeting postponed due to late publicity, will and can be re-scheduled.
at 11:03:11 on 23 March 2013
questions need to be asked as to why so many staff are leaving springwood school, and why there are so many staff off with stress related illnesses.
at 08:48:54 on 23 March 2013
Head tteachers conference three days this March at the Marriott, cost-£160 A DAY = £480 it was said by an employee "that's a months wage packet for me"
nicola brophy wrote
at 08:41:04 on 23 March 2013
As a parant of two boys who attened springwood . I find it rather worrying about the changes within the school.ive always found that the members of staff who have taught my boys are 100% dedicated in to giving the the best education possible for there needs.the cuts are disgusting and should be scraped..transport revamp as well is totaly stupid the escorts are needed for those children and totaly agree that escorts should come within the school because should there be any difficulties they know how to cope with the situation .....help keep our children safe and give them the best start in life because they have enough difficulties in life to cope with..
at 07:49:26 on 23 March 2013
Nursery nurses and the laundress are the 8.5 posts being "dissolved" HLTA posts halved to 4. Teachers and senior leadership salaries protected for 3yrs whilst HLTA n TA3's protected for 9months and 12 months. "21 firm applications for severence and retirement" put forward, WHY do so many staff want out?
not a brain dead labour voter wrote
at 07:48:50 on 23 March 2013
at 22:45:38 on 22 March 2013
No compulsory redundancies, but all support staff have to apply for a job, a lower paid job for many, reduced lunch break, more stress caused by no cover within classrooms, larger classes of children and lack of health and safety.
Lucy wrote
at 22:45:32 on 22 March 2013
Every Child Matters! staff who actually work and care for those vunerable children at the school should be taken seriously when issues are raised, and praised for their total commitment, many of those children can't speak for themselves so the staff who are committed will speak up for them, they deserve some dignity and should be treated fairly. How can less staff improve what has already been ruined !
Concerned Salfordian wrote
at 22:45:18 on 22 March 2013
John Merry said in his letter to parents "We have to support the school in making these changes, as the Ofsted report identifies, and cannot shirk our responsibilities here.". Now that sounds like the council don't want to support the school but "have to", i would expect phrases like "the council are committed" and "Please be assured of our continued support". I do hope the council will not try and push Springwood into becoming an acadamy like the other schools in Salford that have had a bad inspection report. Also with regards to the changes to school transport staffing i suspect these are a result of the councils failed attempt to remove the transport from these vulnerable children back last year, to that i say sorry Salford council but it was you that closed all the primary special schools in Salford in order to have everything under one roof in Swinton. The fact that you are legally obliged to provide transport for these kids who could live as far as 10 miles away in Cadishead is something you will now have to put up with, you made your bed now you can lie in it.
Joe Oneill wrote
at 22:44:28 on 22 March 2013
For the Love of god why do you need 4 assistant heads? mind you from a council that needs a head of International relations any things possible, Why is it when there is financial crises the lowest paid bite the dust, I would like to ask one question though what of the board of Governors? are we not seeing one more Salford School where the Governors are failing in their task and the well paid officials at the council who's jobs it is to monitor situations have been found wanting,
at 19:57:43 on 22 March 2013
Nursery nurse post to be scrapped! 5 Higher level teaching assistants posts scrapped, laundry lady job scrapped. Many of the Lower level(lower paid ) teaching assistants have a second job escorting the children to school; under the proposals these staff will loose up to £ 400 a month!!
at 19:57:08 on 22 March 2013
Health & safety at the school is shocking- a fire door fell off its hinges on tuesday the door and shuters were broken for two days before that; there was obviously a problem and a member of staff and a child fell with it!! fortunately no one was seriously injured!!
life is loud wrote
at 12:52:57 on 22 March 2013
Another case of top heavy management again
Mememe wrote
at 12:52:54 on 22 March 2013
The meetings actuall been cancelled!
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