More whistleblowers report fear and aggression at ‘flattening the grass’ academy chains

Tes has been contacted with more claims about a “culture of fear” and staff “ripping into children” at two multi-academy trusts alleged to have used a hardline behaviour approach called “flattening the grass”.

One teacher – who asked not to be named – came forward with allegations relating to a third Outwood academy. “I can assure you that 100 per cent of things being reported by members of staff and ex-members of staff are 100 per cent true,” they said.

Describing how staff “scream” in children’s faces, the teacher said: “I’ve literally seen them get in their faces – as if the spit is about to come out of their mouth into the kid’s face – they get that up close.”

The teacher said there was a “culture of fear and bullying exhibited by a wide range of ‘leaders’”, from Outwood Grange Academies Trust, with “unnecessary and unrealistic pressures and stress put on staff and students”.

The teacher’s comments follow claims from sources who used to work at a separate school, Outwood Academy Danum in Doncaster, who said they felt the MAT had adopted an approach that felt like “the flattening of the senior leadership team”. The sources said that if staff members bought into Outwood’s ethos, they were said to have become “purple” – the trust’s corporate colour.

Tes also reported claims last week that Delta Academies Trust – which is run by Paul Tarn, a former Outwood executive – used “flattening the grass”.

Sources with knowledge of Delta’s takeover of South Leeds Academy in 2016 likened the school’s discipline methods to a “sort of public shaming” of children, with pupils subjected to “aggressive” shouting for “relatively minor” incidents.

Now Tes has also spoken to a parent – who did not wish to be identified – at Ingleby Manor Free School in Stockton-on-Tees, which is run by Delta. The parent told Tes: “The way they treat the children in the school is exactly what you described.”

The parent said they had personally witnessed staff at the school aggressively shouting at pupils. “I heard them myself, ripping into children,” the parent said. They added that if someone addressed a policeman in such a manner “they’d be arrested”. “But because it’s them against a student, it’s acceptable,” the parent said.

Read the full article More whistleblowers report fear and aggression at ‘flattening the grass’ academy chains

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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