Ex-Charter Academy head known for discipline causing stir in new role

Barry Smith, principal at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, run by the Inspiration Trust.
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Barry Smith when he was head at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy - Credit: Angela Sharpe

The controversial former headteacher of a Great Yarmouth high school is said to have angered parents at a new school over his strict methods.

Barry Smith had headed up Great Yarmouth Charter Academy and hit the headlines for his strict approach to pupils' behaviour and appearance, such as banning what are called 'Meet me at McDonald's'-style haircuts and checking the lengths of girls' skirts.

According to press reports, Mr Smith's new role as a temporary consultant at Abbey School in Faversham, Kent had led to a storm of criticism from some parents about his actions.

Minister for school standards Nick Gibb visiting the Inspiration Trust run Great Yarmouth Charter Ac

Minister for school standards Nick Gibb visiting the Inspiration Trust run Great Yarmouth Charter Academy. Nick Gibb (centre) with headmaster Barry Smith and director of standards Claire Heald - Credit: Angela Sharpe Photography

It is claimed he had ordered pupils to fold their arms when they spoke and they had to attend what are called "discipline assemblies" and chant phrases on how to behave.

Mr Smith was brought into the Kent school as a consultant to advise on school improvement and carry out staff training.

Pupils were also reportedly pulled up for not maintaining eye contact with staff and speaking too quietly when addressing teachers at Abbey School.

In response to the claims, the school's headteacher Dr Rowland Speller had said they had been exaggerated and that Mr Smith was having a positive impact.  

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He added that there had been a "great deal of misinformation and conjecture being spread on a private social media group".

While at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, Mr Smith had been praised by some parents for his strict approach after he took over in 2017.

In summer 2019, 56pc of pupils at the school achieved a passing grade in their GCSEs, compared to the 30pc recorded by its predecessor Great Yarmouth High School in 2017.

In 2019 the high school had also received a good rating from Ofsted, with inspectors praising Mr Smith's "decisive actions to improve behaviour and attitudes to learning". 

He left the school in 2020.

The Inspiration Trust , which runs the academy, had said that Mr Smith had "played a significant part in leading the changes to the culture and ethos of the academy". 

Mr Smith is the regional director at the Community Schools Trust and has a history of instilling his hardline methods, largely with success.