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Salford Council has been shuffling its schools and its schools figures around for years, the latest being the Moorside and Swinton High School mess.
Gareth Lyons tries to get his head around the latest Council approval for a super school at Moorside and Swinton High going academy. The new Salford Council proposition in the wake of Swinton High School's academy application was approved by the Council Cabinet on the 25th May.
The new "improved" plans for Moorside High School will see a slightly reduced capacity secondary school, an increased size primary school and 20 place "short stay" school (which in layperson's terms means pupils who have been taken out of main stream education).
The new proposals make a mockery of the projected numbers used to justify the original plans from last year, which were focused on reducing excess capacity to cut costs, one of the main objectives set by the council for the 21st Century Learning Commission.
The new report to justify the proposed build of a new Moorside High School calculates that this school, to satisfy its catchment area, needs to be kept at its current capacity of 1050. If Salford Council's new figures are correct and the merger of Swinton High and Moorside High had taken place, then by 2016 Swinton would have needed another High School Building or a significant expansion to the merged school site. Cynics and conspiracy theorists may point out that this was easily sorted, as the inclusion of a primary school in the original merged school was subterfuge to get an 1800 capacity secondary school built.
Leading educational figures, including the Council's 21st Century Learning Commission, state that the optimum size for a secondary school is 900 pupils. If, however, Council officials have massaged figures to continue a build because it is "the most cost effective solution" - as worded in the report presented to the Council Cabinet - then, simply put, they should be removed from office and legal proceedings  instigated.
What is frightening is the number juggling in order to justify the continued original proposed build, with the Council documentation justifying this by stating it is the most cost effective solution. This new report is in direct contradiction of the 21st Century Learning Commissions Report which looked at rebuilding Moorside on its own and concluded that "There is a risk that the new Moorside School would not be full and, as a PFI building, it would risk the same budget issues that other PFI schools in the City have experienced".
The problems other schools have experienced is that they are being run under their capacity and over budget.
The original proposals were based on the 21st Century Learning Report which had as one of it's first Council-set objectives being to: "Investigate and evaluate options to make further reductions in surplus places in the secondary sector, notably in the areas where there are schools which are not financially viable".

The 21st Century Commission concluded that there should be only one non-faith secondary school in Swinton with eventually on roll 1350 secondary students, but with initially 1800 or so and, as rolls fell, capacity could be taken over by Moorside Primary School. In short, the contracts to build this school were made before the independent report had been concluded. In light of the recent criticism - or being less diplomatic the Council's disastrous and incompetent handling and running of the Children's Services and the refusal of those at the top such as the Chief Executive and leaders of the council to resign - there should be a completely Independent review of education and its provision within this city. It is discouraging reading this document that the justification in these plans is simply cost - it is too expensive to redesign plans, it is too expensive not to build it now.
I must be a complete fool but how can a building that has not been built be too expensive not to build?
There is little mention in this report of, as Tony Blair put it, `Education, Education Education'. If they are building a school on Moorside playing field it should be for the right reasons, to provide high quality education. Star date: 25th May 2016 LOWER BROUGHTON BOXING DAY FLOOD REPORT STILL NOT PUBLISHED A report into the Lower Broughton's Boxing Day flood has still not surfaced, five months after the event. Star date: 24th May 2016 SERIOUS BREACHES OF AGREEMENTS LEADS TO FIRST UK BUS STRIKE Hundreds of bus drivers, members of Unite union, began a 24 hour strike today at First Manchester UK over breaches of longstanding industrial agreements, which will affect services in Salford. It will see the continuation of a super school being built on Moorside playing field, this time without Swinton High which refused its invite to Salford Council's education party. More frighteningly they call into doubt and raise serious questions as to the entire building programme initiated in this city. Which results in the Council struggling to finance students' education properly, and paying off the interest from private finance to build the schools. The commission concluded that this single secondary school would be popular and therefore and would minimise "the risk of financial problems arising from the PFI build" (PFI are loans from private business, which is a way local authorities can spend huge amounts of money they don't have, and pay it back at extortionate rates over long periods of time).
By merging the two schools the Council could raise money by selling off land whilst also reducing running costs.

The Council also ignored the Learning Commission's recommendation not to build the Oasis Academy at Media City. But to have a report done internally that contradicts what the "independent experts", who were hand chosen by the Council, does look extremely strange.
Unless the unconfirmed rumours from Moorside High School staff are correct, and everything has been bought by the contractors. Not because, as many locals have suggested to me, that agreements made at the golf club need to be kept.
At a stormy community meeting in January the now ex Salford Mayor Ian Stewart promised a full investigation. Psychopathy and The Single Girl runs for four days in June at the King's Arms and stars Beth Hunter of the upcoming Brit film, Dusty and Me, and Salford actor, Rob Lines, who has just returned from performing in New York alongside Francesca Annis. When the 21st Learning Commission published their report towards the end of last year they stated that a single secondary school in Swinton with a capacity of 1350 would suit the town's needs.
It is true that the 21st Century Learning Commission used figures of projected rolls until 2016 and this new report uses figures until 2021. With Swinton High's spanner being thrown into the works this sell off of land and playing fields is no longer an option. As the report to the Council at this week's Cabinet meeting stated: "The impact of The Swinton High academy decision has had a significant impact on the funding available"…Meaning there will be more money borrowed and more interest to pay.
It does look to me like someone has decided there will be a new school built on Moorside playing fields whatever the justification. Surely a school which is too big, is in its own way a danger as there is more space for anti-social behaviour to go unnoticed, less staff to patrol spaces and higher running costs.

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