Outwood Grange Academy

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Outwood Grange Academy
Motto Students first
Established 1972 (1972)
Type Academy
Principal Sabiha Laher
Chair of Academy Council Roland Harden
Location Potovens Lane
West Yorkshire
Coordinates: 53°42′30″N 1°30′49″W / 53.70839°N 1.51352°W / 53.70839; -1.51352
Local authority Wakefield
DfE URN 135961 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Capacity 2,200
Students 2,144 as of January 2016
Gender Mixed
Ages 11–18
Houses Africa, Asia, Americas, Australasia and Europe
Colours Purple and gold          
Publication Outlook Magazine
Website grange.outwood.com

Outwood Grange Academy is a secondary school and sixth form with academy status in Outwood, near Wakefield, England. It has a mixed intake of both boys and girls ages 11–18, and has over 2,100 pupils on roll with a comprehensive admissions policy.[1]

The school is operated by Outwood Grange Academies Trust, and the current principal is Sabiha Laher.[1] It publishes a newsletter, Outlook Magazine, on a termly basis.[2]


Outwood Grange School was established in 1972 through the merger of Outwood and Stanley secondary schools, with John L Snowdon as its first headteacher.[3]

When Michael Wilkins became headteacher of the school in 2001 it was performing in the bottom 10% of schools.[4]

In 2002 it became Outwood Grange College after achieving specialist technology college status.

The school subsequently undertook major redevelopment work to improve its grounds, buildings and facilities in general. This included major renovation works to the majority of the Upper College Block, where new ICT suites, a recording studio and improved reception facilities were created. The Lower College Hall also received attention and was equipped with retractable seating and conferencing equipment.

In 2005 a gravel playing field, commonly known as "redgra" after its composition of red gravel, was replaced with an astroturf sports field after many years of fundraising. In the same year a new Business and Training Centre was opened, housing both the Business Department and additional training facilities for rental purposes. The college has used these advanced facilities to aid other schools in the region, and to participate in the launch of national initiatives such as "Make Your Mark Start Talking Ideas", which encourages children and young people to engage themselves with businesses.

In 2008 Outwood Grange College, Horbury School, and Wakefield City High School together formed Aspire Trust, and became trust schools.[5]

In spring 2009 the school was praised in a speech made by Prime Minister Gordon Brown after securing government approval to become England's first "Academy of Excellence".[6] During the transition to academy status the school left Aspire Trust.[5]

Outwood Grange Academy[edit]

In September 2009, Outwood Grange College re-opened as Outwood Grange Academy, operated by the newly formed Outwood Grange Academies Trust. The school's headteacher, Michael Wilkins, became Chief Executive of the trust, which has since gone on to operate other schools across northern England using Outwood Grange as a model. Mr Wilkins received criticism for spending public funds excessively[7] and for overseeing a dramatic increase in pupil exclusions and expulsions.[8] In 2014 Michael Wilkins received a knighthood for services to Education.[9]

The Sir Michael Wilkins Arts Centre opened to students in January 2016, after suffering from delays due to the original construction company entering into bankruptcy.[10] The purpose built £6.5m facility includes art studios, performance spaces, and recording studios.[11][12]

Tracking student progress[edit]

The college uses a series of effort grades known as "Praising Stars." The system uses grades prefixed with the letter "E", standing for "Effort", which range from E1 (Brilliant) to E3 (Reasonable) to E6 (Exclusion).

Praising Stars, or 'E Grades' as they are commonly called, are given to students six times a year as a form of report to parents. It is commonplace for individual year groups to have assemblies which recognize and commend students who have performed well throughout the term achieving E1s, E2s and E3s.

In many cases individual teachers also use Praising Stars as a way of marking pieces of classwork.

Disciplinary measures[edit]

The school uses a system of escalating "consequences" as a framework for discipline, beginning with C1 and ranging through to C6 (exclusion).

Upon reaching a C4, a student is removed from the classroom and given a detention, during which they are provided a list of the expectations for behaviour in the classroom. If, however, the student then chooses to not attend the detention they are given a C5, which results in isolation for one school day. A C6 is given if the situation escalates further, resulting in a fixed term of exclusion from the school. However, if this exclusion is extended for any reason it upgrades to expulsion, the pupil will receive a letter home. There was a dramatic increase in pupil expulsion following the appointment of Mr Wilkins and the move to Academy status.

Pastoral care[edit]

In early 2007, the college revealed plans to restructure how tutor groups, the main provision of pastoral care within the college, are organised, moving from the traditional horizontal structure to a vertical one. Although controversial, the plan progressed through consultation and has been put into place from September 2008.[13]

The former structure saw each pupil belonging to a form group of around 30 pupils from their own year-group, which they remain in, together with a teacher acting as a tutor, for their entire school career. The new structure keeps a consistent teacher acting as a tutor to the group, but is mixed-age with pupils from all year groups being included in each mentoring group. This means that each group evolves every year, as older pupils leave and are replaced by younger pupils entering the school. Pupils entering the school are guaranteed, as in the past, to have at least one friend in their mentoring group.

Vertical structuring has been implemented in other secondary schools, the main advantages being seen as the mixing of ages leading to an increased sense of community, allowing for pupils to share experiences, foster understanding and reduce bullying.[14]

Academic achievements[edit]

In 2003, the school was achieving a GCSE pass rate with around 46%[15] of pupils achieving five A to C grades. By 2005 that result had risen to 83%,[15] an increase underpinned by the quality of an updated curriculum and new intervention schemes used to aid underperforming students.[citation needed] Additionally, it has been said that much of the increase in 'success' was brought about by using 'GCSE equivalent' qualifications such as GNVQs, which have been criticised as resulting in illusory increases in statistical performance rather than genuine academic improvement.[16][17]

Outwood Grange Academies Trust[edit]

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Outwood Grange Academy". EduBase. Department for Education. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "Outlook Magazine". Outwood Grange Academy. 
  3. ^ "Tributes paid to headteacher". www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk. Johnston Publishing. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "Pupils in the north to benefit from 'injection of expertise' - Press releases - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Department for Education. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "School's £20m assets put back in council control in academy change". Wakefield Express. Johnston Publishing. 11 August 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "Prime minister Gordon Brown praises Outwood Grange leadership". www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk. Johnston Publishing. 6 May 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Superhead Michael Wilkins' 'excessive' spending spree to boost teachers' morale". Mail Online. 9 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "Thousands of children excluded from schools". 
  9. ^ Campbell, James (4 January 2014). "Knighthood for Michael Wilkins, Hull-born educator inspired by Bransholme High School teacher". Hull Daily Mail. Local World. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Mort, Don (11 March 2015). "Outwood Grange £6.5m arts centre on hold as building firm goes bust and cuts 350 jobs". Pontefract and Castleford Express. Johnston Publishing. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  11. ^ "Aerial film of Outwood Grange Academy's Arts Centre". Bowman Riley. 31 August 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  12. ^ "'World class' £6.5m arts centre will develop talent". Wakefield Express. Johnston Publishing. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  13. ^ Outwood Grange College news
  14. ^ Wymondham High School - Vertical Grouping
  15. ^ a b "BBC NEWS - Education - League Tables - Outwood Grange College". 
  16. ^ "Tables turned on deprived pupils". 
  17. ^ "From Outstanding to Special Measures in less than 3 years: same head, same chair of governors. What issues does this raise? - Local Schools Network". 
  18. ^ Rigg, Nick. "Cycling: Wakefield rider Ollie Wood named in Great Britain team to compete in Paris-Roubaix Juniors road race". Wakefield Express. Johnston Publishing. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 

External links[edit]