MAT with North East schools responds to Guardian article on use of isolation booths

A MAT with a number of schools in the North East has defended its record on behaviour and the use of isolation units against claims from parents that it is barbaric.

Katy Bradford, Chief Operating Officer at Outwood Grange Academies Trust, gave this statement to SCHOOLS NorthEast:

“Outwood has a published Behaviour Policy which has been explained and issued to every parent in the trust and has been in operation in different guises for more than 14 years.  Ofsted have visited our secondary academies and found six of them to be Outstanding in all categories and six of them Good with many of them having outstanding features (the majority of the academies that Outwood sponsors are in Special Measures when we arrive, with behaviour often chaotic and dangerous).  Furthermore, Ofsted in every inspection have carefully looked at all behaviour sanctions, including fixed and permanent exclusions, and judged our practice as stated above.  In 2015, Outwood wrote to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Ofsted, highlighting the number of times that we had uncovered informal and illegal exclusions in the schools which we were sponsoring.  This is a practice that Outwood would never involve itself in.   Isolation rooms are used by hundreds, if not thousands, of schools across the country, the majority of which tend to have students facing a wall.  Outwood prefer to have students facing staff and have built desks so that students can work free from distraction and have contact with a member of staff at all times.

In 2016, a new CEO was appointed to Outwood Grange Academies Trust who, as part of Outwood’s continuous cycle of improvement, has reviewed numerous policies and practices carried out by the trust and in March 2018, developed a new iteration of our Behaviour Policy.  In summary, a student would have to have had four warnings in a classroom, failed a 30 minute detention, failed a one hour detention before they would spend half a day in isolation and then if they fail that, a full day in isolation.  Students are occupied and supported in their work throughout this time.  Only if a student fails all of this would they receive a fixed term, temporary suspension/fixed exclusion via this route.  It is vital that people understand the difference between a fixed exclusion which in most of Outwood’s cases are for half or one day, as opposed a permanent exclusion: these two must not be conflated.

We are delighted that we have 940 more parents who have chosen for their child to attend an Outwood academy starting in our schools this week compared to the same academies this time last year.  Parental confidence is high and, for example, in Outwood Academy Ormesby, the local authority have asked the academy, because of its popularity, to admit over its published admission number.  Lastly, use of behaviour sanctions is not just an indication of poor behaviour but also an indication of the standards that an academy sets as it tries to raise standards and transform children’s life chances, something which Outwood has an unprecedented success at.”

You can read the full article on the Guardian website.

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