Educating Greater Manchester is back on screens tonight but here’s why it almost didn’t air

Channel 4

The BAFTA-winning hit Channel 4 show Educating Greater Manchester is returning to screens for a brand new series tonight, but it’s been a bumpy ride to get here.

Harrop Fold School in Little Hulton is once again opening its doors to the British public.

The first series of the Greater Manchester instalment of the fly-on-the-wall documentary show aired back in 2017, which makes this new series the first time the Educating… programme has returned to the same facility more than once.

Despite the late-2020 air date, filming for this new series actually took place in the school back in 2018, but the episodes were put on hold from hitting screens during what was a tumultuous time for the institution and senior leadership staff.

The school was placed into ‘special measures’ by education standards board Ofsted, and was then being investigated over ‘off-rolling’ allegations suggesting children were removed from the register to make the institution appear like it was achieving better results than it was in reality.

Four members of senior staff were subsequently suspended amid investigations, with Headmaster and show figure-head Drew Povey eventually tendering his resignation shortly after.

Announcing his stepping down from the role formally via Twitter in 2018, Mr Povey said at the time: “It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing to tender my resignation as executive head of Harrop Fold School with immediate effect.

“As you are aware, there is an investigation under way.

Harrop Fold School

He continued: “Despite the alleged need for swift action to be taken earlier in the year, the investigation process itself has been allowed to drag on, causing damage to the reputation of the school and to me personally. Parents and pupils are unsettled, and the media are speculating as to what has gone on that is so serious to warrant my suspension and that of three other members of staff.

“I am 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.”

Harrop Fold School has since been taken under the wing of the United Learning Academy Trust.

The prospect of the pre-filmed episodes ever making it to screens was all very up in the air, but now, just over two years after the situation unfolded, Channel 4 has given the green light to begin showing the series from this evening.

So, what can viewers expect from the first episode hitting screens this evening?

According to the official Channel 4 preview, the series offers “a real but warm snapshot of life in a British school”.

“There is also a catch-up with some of the much-loved pupils from the previous series: cheeky Vincent, who’s now going into Year 10 and claims he’s a reformed character; and Katelyn, who struggled to focus last time but now wants to get her head down. 

“The series also explore the ups and downs through the eyes of some of the teachers.”

Channel 4

“The school’s Year 7s already have a reputation among staff for being the naughtiest yet. There’s Jacob who opens up about his struggles with dyslexia [and] the school is on high alert after a member of the public calls in claiming to have seen a Harrop Fold pupil with a knife, forcing Mr Povey and his staff to instigate bag searches to find the culprit.

“Year 9 Katelyn is desperate to become a midwife but keeps bunking off lessons [and] Mr Povey worries that if she doesn’t knuckle down she will end up missing out on her dream.

“And the staff crack down on pupils at the centre of a lucrative black market at the school, selling chocolate sweets and drinks to their classmates.”

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Educating Greater Manchester is airing on Channel 4 tonight at 9:15pm.