Strict ex-head of Charter Academy causes stir at new school

Students at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy collecting their GCSE results 2018. Principle Barry Smith

Barry Smith seen at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy on exam results day - Credit: Angela Sharpe Photography

The controversial former headteacher of a Great Yarmouth high school is back in the headlines yet again over his strict methods in the classroom.

Barry Smith had headed Great Yarmouth Charter Academy and became known 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.

Mr Smith is reported to have caused a stir in his new temporary role at De Lisle College in Loughborough.

Parents have claimed pupils are made to smile at teachers constantly or face detention and one pupil is said to have been told off for folding her arms the wrong way.

One parent is also reported to have said the pupils have to walk with both shoulders along walls.

It is understood that Mr Smith was invited along to the Catholic secondary school, which is part of the St Thomas Aquinas Multi-Academy Trust, on a temporary basis to help organise smooth transition of pupils between classes.

Mr Smith has regularly defended his stance on social media.

He said on Twitter this week: "Having visited lots of schools this term, more than ever, I stand by, ‘own the corridors, own the school’.

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"Lesson changeovers should exemplify genuine mutual respect. It won’t happen by accident. It takes vigilance and the development of new habits."

Last month Mr Smith also hit the headlines over another temporary consultancy role at Abbey School in Faversham, Kent.

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.

It was also said that pupils were reportedly pulled up for not maintaining eye contact with staff and speaking too quietly when addressing teachers at the Kent School.

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

Mr Smith took over Great Yarmouth Charter Academy in 2017 and divided parents over his approach in the classroom.

In summer 2019, 56pc of pupils at the academy 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, which praised Mr Smith for his "decisive actions" at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy.

He left the school in 2020.