Outwood Grange hits back at ‘flattening the grass’ accounts

Outwood Grange Academies Trust has hit back at claims that it had a policy of aggressively shouting at pupils as part of a “ritual humiliation” aimed at instilling discipline known as ‘flattening the grass’. Tes reports.

In its strongest rebuttal to date, a spokesperson for Outwood said it “categorically” denied having a policy of “humiliating children or deliberately causing them upset”, and produced three testimonials from leaders at two academies taken over by the trust last year.

The response came on the day Tes published new accounts from teachers who said they had seen the practice. 

Outwood today provided Tes with testimonials which it said contradicted the claims. Tes has published them in full:

Liz Ford, principal, Outwood Academy City Fields, Wakefield (formally taken over by Outwood July 2018)

After months of turbulence, having been part of WCAT (the school’s former academy chain), on Friday 22 June 2018 we launched the beginning of our journey with Outwood Grange Academies Trust with our students. The assembly for each group took place in the usual way. Students entered the assembly hall and took their seats quietly, as has always been my expectation. The principal, leaders of the school, teachers of each year group and some experienced OGAT Subject Directors who had already been supporting the school were all present in the Assembly Hall.

The launch was extremely positive, led jointly by me and the executive principal who had been working closely with the leaders, teachers and students of Outwood Academy City Fields since November 2017. The executive principal and the team had been part of numerous staff meetings and student assemblies over the months leading up to June. They were all familiar faces throughout the academy in June 2018. The students were, as always, attentive and eager to hear what was being said, following the months of uncertainty and speculation surrounding the future of their school.

Every student was given a tie during this assembly. The message was clear: you are now a part of our family of schools. You are the most important person in this room and you will now have the access to all the support and opportunities that every student across our trust is given. They were all very clear that their future with Outwood was about students first: raising standards and transforming lives.

Adam Griffith, assistant principal, City Fields

With regards to the initial assemblies delivered by Carolyn Blundell and Liz Ford on 22 June 2018, in my mind, the atmosphere in the hall could only be described as motivational and inspirational.

The message was clear: this is an exciting opportunity for every student in the room – the extra support on offer, pledges system, residential trips were all explained.

Expectations were made clear: we won’t accept one student stopping a class from learning; a message that almost all students support, and that was backed up a few weeks later when a sample of students told us what they thought about the consequences system, which was overwhelmingly positive too.

Read the 3 full testimonials Outwood Grange hits back at ‘flattening the grass’ accounts

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

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  1. Anonymous

    “The students were, as always, attentive and eager to hear what was being said, ” This reminds me very much of a teacher I once knew who enthused about how his class had been so involved in the class and so enthusiastic. The reality was that one boy kept answering questions and the rest of the class were too bored to do anything. As a teacher you can often see what you want to see, which is why informal (helpful) observations are useful – rather than the punitive ones which are often held and which do nothing to help.

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