OK CLASS OF 2008, listen up. There was a large pot of money to do up Salford's Secondary Schools - over £150million. So plans were laid to bulldoze schools, merge them, open them, close them and build them where no-one wanted them.
Hope High School was to be flattened and turned into a private Oasis Academy miles away at the Quays with no room for footy pitches, gridlocked traffic and run by Evangelical Christians as a "non-faith" school. The land at Hope was to be sold off for housing. Meanwhile, All Hallows was being bulldozed and moved to a site on Blodwell St in Langworthy. In a massive Council campaign the community was consulted on this, only to find out a few months later that it's not going there at all - it's going to the Hope site and the Langworthy site's being sold off for housing. Meanwhile, there's a shiny new school being built for Harrop Fold, but the Council got its sums wrong, and commissioned a new school that's too big and a quarter empty. Are you dizzy yet? Good, you're ready for the closure of St George's, the over subscribed, top OFSTED approved RC High School in Little Hulton.
Here, official consultation with the community showed massive disapproval with the plans, but the Council wouldn't budge, until there was wind of a huge demo. Oh, and a local election coming up. Then the Council announced a "breakthrough" - during half term, of course, when the school was shut and couldn't comment. St George's was going to merge with St Ambrose Barlow on a new site in Wardley, previously rejected as being unsuitable for a school.
"It's not a breakthrough and I'm quite annoyed really that it's been portrayed as that, and was leaked to the press as if it's a done deal" says St George's Head, Philip Harte. "There have been no formal negotiations between the governing bodies of St George's and Ambrose Barlow" he explains "We will obviously look at the proposals but that's as far as it goes at the moment, so it is far from being a breakthrough. We don't know whether the site is suitable, we haven't talked about numbers, we haven't talked about how the respective school communities feel about joining together to form a new school, that's the first thing you should have been doing before you release it as a "breakthrough".
"Our number one priority is to keep St George's open on this site but not at all costs as the school does need some redevelopment" he adds "We will consider what is in the best interests of St George's, and if it can be proven to us that a new site and a new building is going to serve our youngsters better than staying on our existing site then obviously we will go along with that.
"But we will listen to what people want - our youngsters, our parents, our community - and we will inform and advise them on educational grounds - not pounds, shillings and pence, not numbers, not distances. We will advise them in their best educational interests."
So today's question is "Who knows best?" - Little Hulton's community or the number crunchers at the Council?
Here's a clue to help you. St Edmund's primary school in Little Hulton was recently merged with St Joseph's and Our Lady primaries, and re-built at a cost of £4.2million. Despite assurances, there is no transport laid on to get to the new school and someone at the Council got their maths wrong... again. The school's too small and we understand, the kids will be using mobile classrooms when the "state of the art" primary opens in September. Now scream again. Louder. LOUDER! LOUDER!!!