MPs demand answers from Outwood Grange about ‘flattening the grass’

Two MPs have written to Outwood Grange multi-academy trust about “incredibly concerning” suggestions that it pursued a controversial behaviour policy known as “flattening the grass” to make pupils cry.

The MPs said that if these allegations were correct, it would “raise serious ethical questions”.

The controversy started when prominent headteacher John Tomsett, who leads Huntingdon School in York, wrote a blog about behaviour management.

In the blog, Mr Tomsett referred to an anonymous MAT using a behaviour policy called “flattening the grass”, which involved MAT executives visiting the school “en masse”, standing around the edge of the room during assemblies, and singling out pupils “in front of their peers until they cry”.

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Revealed: 28 academy trusts ordered to justify CEO pay

Twenty-eight academy trusts have been ordered by the government to justify salaries of more than £100,000.

The academies minister, Lord Agnew, has written to chairs of trustees today in a bid to curb “excessive” salaries.

The trusts have been asked to provide extra details on the pay of executives who earn more than £150,000, as well as those earning £100,000 if two or more people in a school command a six-figure salary.

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Academy rapped over consultancy payments to chair of trustees

A special school that paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to consultants, including one who served as its chair of trustees and chief finance officer, has been criticised by education funding chiefs.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has published a report on its financial management and governance review of Woodfield School, a special school in Brent which became a standalone academy in April 2014.

The school, rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, was found to have breached academy funding rules through a  lack of transparency, conflicts of interests, breaches of procurement requirements and by failing to ensure work by related parties was carried out at-cost.
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DfE threatens to reclaim £110k loan unless school joins a multi-academy trust

The government has threatened to forcibly claim back a £110,000 loan issued to a single-academy trust unless it joins a MAT.

The threat comes as a school leaders’ union issues a warning over the “serious implications” of conditions attached to such emergency loans.

A financial notice to improve issued to Hinckley Academy and John Cleveland Sixth Form Centre in Leicester was published on Friday, its second since May 2016.

Under the warning, the trust was ordered to “take all actions it can” to rebroker its sole academy.

If not, the Education and Skills Funding Agency will apply a “qualifying floating charge” to claim back the deficit funding of £110,000 it lent the trust. This is essentially a charge that “hovers” over the trust’s assets, meaning the agency is first in line to claw its cash back in the case of insolvency.
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Reclaiming democratic community education: the tide is turning

Central to the strategy adopted by those seeking to privatise public education has been the creation of the so-called ‘independent public school’. These are schools that are nominally in the public sector but detached from traditional forms of democratic community control.

They are encouraged to behave as businesses competing in commercial markets and often have substantial private sector involvement. ‘Charter schools’ in the USA, New Zealand’s ‘partnership schools’ and England’s ‘academy schools’ all provide examples of these so-called public-private partnerships – and all are now facing serious challenges.

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