This morning, the full media circus arrived in Little Hulton for the planned protest outside Harrop Fold school, made famous after starring in the Educating Greater Manchester series.
Head teacher, Drew Povey, and three other staff were suspended by Salford City Council last week over 'record keeping', with a huge backlash from parents, pupils and the community. As over one thousand people signed a petition to reinstate the staff, a protest was planned this morning outside the school gates by parents, and inside the school grounds by pupils.
However, yesterday, the school decided to close for the day, issuing a statement: "Due to the protest planned for tomorrow and the distressing effect on our students today, we have reluctantly taken the decision to close the school tomorrow (Thursday 19th July). School will be open as usual on Friday 20th July and will close as planned at 12.30pm for the summer holidays..."
Nevertheless, some parents, pupils and members of the community still arrived to air their grievances...
Parent, Lisa Lindley, sporting a 'Team Harrop' t-shirt complete with the slogan #WeBelieveInDrew, told the Salford Star that she wanted the head teacher and staff reinstated...
"I feel it's unjust" she said "And the Council didn't deal with it as they should have done in the beginning. I found out through social media, and to say that I was shocked and embarrassed is an understatement; there was no warning for the parents. Neither have I seen anything confirmed as to why they were suspended. We need to know, we're parents, and in the meantime he needs to be reinstated. He needs to be here doing his job..."
Former pupil, Freya, came to back the staff in the way they had backed her while she was at the school...
"I've just recently left and I'm here to support everyone who was supportive to me while I was doing my GSCEs, like Mr Povey and the other three teachers" she said "We had chats before the exams to make sure we were all ready and had everything prepared, to make sure we all did sit our GSCEs in the best way we could. So I'm here to support them."
And current pupil, Aleysha, added that "We're all a team. They should all come back because they make it a friendly place and a better place where they try and make everyone have a smile on their face every day."
Sharon Higgins, who lives locally, left the previous incarnation of the school at 15 with no qualifications and has seen the improvements... "I feel that Drew has made a real positive impact to the area and to the kids, so I've come to show support. As a headmaster, he's an inspirational man and I can't understand what has gone on. Something doesn't feel right at all. I can't understand what the governors are thinking, but the kids and community love Drew."
Her sentiments were echoed by parent Wendy Bleakley, who was also educated at Harrop Fold... "Mr Povey has turned this school around amazingly, I've had no problems with it at all. It looks after its students well, and when they've been naughty Mr Povey puts them straight. He's a brilliant head teacher and shouldn't have been suspended.
"I don't know why he's been suspended but they should tell people" she added "He's certainly got my support..."
To see the petition to reinstate Drew Povey and the other suspended staff – click here