PARENTS of pupils at a secondary school placed in special measures say they are livid by the “the aggressive approach of a Draconian academy” which is taking over its management.

Outwood Grange Academy Trust, which has been given the go-ahead to run Easingwold School - which is in a rural area of North Yorkshire - has been accused of imposing a zealous regime, suited to other schools it runs in inner cities.

The school, whose former pupils include Sir Clive Woodward and ex-Royal Bank of Scotland boss Stephen Hester, was placed in special measures last month and, as a consequence, will have to be run by an academy.

Ofsted concluded it had not improved enough since inspectors rated it as “requires improvement” in 2012 and 2014.

In the unvalidated RAISEonline 2016 - a document produced by the Government which provides schools with data on its performance - Easingwold School’s maths results were ranked 100th, which is at the bottom of similar schools nationally, as noted by Ofsted in its latest report, which described pupils’ skills when they reach key stage 4 as “woefully low”. 

Parents claim the trust has moved to launch an overly-strict behaviour policy which will see expulsions soaring in an area where children can’t easily access alternative provision, while taking away teachers’ autonomy, axing the school house system and cutting links with the community.

A decision to introduce a new uniform, just months after the school was criticised for forcing parents to buy branded trousers, has further incensed parents.

One parent said: “We are calling on management to pull back on plans to rush through changes which are being bulldozed through without proper thought or according to government guidelines.”

Thirsk and Malton MP, a former pupil and governor at the school, said he had visited one of the trust’s other schools and had been impressed by its holistic approach.

He said the trust, which runs another academy in Ripon, was a proven provider which had a strong reputation for discipline and he wanted to talk to them about “unnecessary exclusions”.

He said: “It is time for change, the school has not been performing as it should. We would be letting the children down if something wasn’t done quickly.

“Ripon College was rated as satisfactory in 2011, but since Outwood has taken it on it has been rated outstanding.”

A spokesman for Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT), made up of 21 academies across the North, said the behaviour of pupils in the Ofsted Report stated it "requires improvement"

He added: "As a result of Easingwold School being placed in Special Measures by Ofsted in September 2016, the Regional Schools Commissioner identified OGAT as the academy sponsor for the school because of our track record in supporting schools in significant difficulties. 

"To that end, the trust has started to work in the school to undertake a due diligence and identify the areas for improvement, and how to best secure a rapid transformation in the school’s fortunes. As always, when we work in schools in difficulties there are some excellent staff who, with further support, will be integral to the future success of the school. 

"One aspect of this is our behaviour policy which supports children to be ready to learn and allows teachers to teach. 

"We are very conscious that after many years of under-performance, Easingwold School requires significant support.

"Senior leaders within the trust held a parents’ consultation meeting with the local authority and were delighted by the positive response from a large majority of parents who, when asked, voted overwhelmingly for OGAT to work in the school.  We are also delighted with the support we have received from the governing body.

"OGAT continue to hold talks at these early stages with the local authority and the Regional Schools Commissioner but should the school convert to sponsorship with OGAT, they will join one of the highest performing multi academy trusts.  OGAT are also recognised as a System Trust because of our ability to support not only our own schools but others in the country.

"This includes Outwood Academy Ripon, which is also in North Yorkshire and was sponsored by OGAT, when graded as Satisfactory by Ofsted and is now ‘Outstanding’ in all categories.

"As just one further example of our track record, Outwood Academy Portland, in North Nottinghamshire, was in Special Measures when we first started working in the school and is now judged as Outstanding in all categories by Ofsted and ranked as the 10th highest performing school by progress in England. We have this same ambition for Easingwold School."