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Parents outraged over ‘army like’ schooling rule at new Great Yarmouth Charter Academy

PUBLISHED: 08:27 10 September 2017 | UPDATED: 07:56 11 September 2017

Principal Barry Smith.
Picture: Inspiration Trust

Principal Barry Smith. Picture: Inspiration Trust

Archant

Parents have expressed their outrage at new rules enforced after the former Great Yarmouth High School became an academy.

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy's new logo. Picture: Inspiration Trust Great Yarmouth Charter Academy's new logo. Picture: Inspiration Trust

The new academic year started last week, and students at the high school were preparing for a change as their school was renamed Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, run by the Inspiration Trust.

Along with that change came a new headteacher and set of rules - some of which were only sent out to parents just days before the start of term. New headteacher Barry Smith is co-founder of the controversial Michaela School in London.

It is widely regarded for being one of the toughest schools in the country.

In a letter to parents, Mr Smith said: “Charter is not Great Yarmouth High School. Great Yarmouth High School was a failing school.”

In last month’s GCSE results, the school received some of the worst results in the country with only 30pc of students achieving passes in maths and English.

Expectations were listed in the letter, including:

• Traditional black school shoes in leather or leather look material. The letter said: “Children who do not meet our expectations regarding uniform and appearance will be placed in isolation.”

MORE: Phones confiscated for weeks and sick buckets in the classroom - tough new rules at Norfolk school

• No mobile phones on the school site. If a phone is seen or heard it will be confiscated.

Mr Smith said: “Your children will avoid detentions, isolations, or confiscations if you are a supportive parent. The responsibility lies with you.”

Concerned parents took to Facebook to express their worries, where a public group called Yarmouth High Worried Parents has been created.

The group called the school’s policies “army like”, and has organised a meeting for parents on September 14.

Anthony Finch, who is stepfather of a student at the school said: “My stepdaughter works hard, is an excellent student and has a great deal of potential. “I am appalled to see her afraid to attend school.”

Another parent, Tracy Cole said: “Love to know why my daughter was put in isolation today and made to cry on her first day back. I’m fuming, thing is she doesn’t even know why she was put in there.”

Kerry Herod’s daughter was allegedly told retractable pens were not allowed in the school as they could be clicked and become distracting. She has applied for her daughter to be transferred to a different school.

However, other parents on the group supported the changes, and pointed to the turnaround of the Michaela School which has been branded outstanding by Ofsted.

One parent said their son, who has behaviour issues, had come out of school happy for the first time.

Cheryl Ann Gardin added: “No parent wants to hear bad reviews about their kids but let’s face it, our children aren’t little angels in the home so you can bet your bottom dollar they’re even worse at school. That school was a joke before and I’d bet money it’s about to turn around for the better.”

Inspiration Trust spokesman James Goffin said: “This summer Great Yarmouth High returned the lowest GCSE results in the county, and for many years has underperformed compared to other schools in the borough. We don’t believe this is good enough, and we don’t believe it is because our pupils are any less able. What they need is the right environment to learn and succeed.

“Children can’t learn in unruly classrooms. Charter has a stricter approach to things like behaviour and uniform so that everyone gets the chance to learn. Our teachers cannot do this alone: we need families to back the school 100pc so pupils get a consistent message at home and in school.

“Unfortunately there has been a lot of rumour and inaccurate information spread on social media that has understandably concerned some parents and pupils.

“Mr Smith has already met with several parents individually, and the academy will be holding a meeting for all parents in the coming days so they can hear first hand what Great Yarmouth Charter Academy is really all about.”

The letter sent to parents in full said:

“Dear families,

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy opened its doors to families on Wednesday, September 6.

Charter is not Great Yarmouth High School. Great Yarmouth High School was a failing school where, too often, pupil indiscipline was commonplace and many parents simply did not support the school.

In 2017 Great Yarmouth High School pupils had some of the worst GCSE results in the entire country. In a typical class of 30 pupils, 21 pupils left the school without even a pass in English and maths.

Charter Academy is not Great Yarmouth High School. Charter Academy is a new school with a new headmaster. Charter Academy is a new member of the Inspiration Trust and, as such, has huge resources and expertise behind it.

As the Headmaster of Charter Academy I cannot, I will not, allow the indiscipline, the disrespect, the failure, the bullying, the truancy and the lack of parental support, that were all a part of daily life at the former High School, to continue.

Parents let down their children when parents fail to support their education. As a Charter parent you must support the school 100%. 99% just won’t do. At times you may think our approach inflexible, over strict, or unreasonable. But I ask that you trust us, and help your children succeed in ways you might never have imagined.

My job, as Headmaster of Charter Academy, is to ensure that teachers and pupils have a safe environment free from abuse, in which they can excel.

Your children’s job is to attend every day on time, follow all instructions first time every time, treat everyone they meet politely, and get the top grades they possibly can in everything they do.

Your job is to support their school and their education. By supporting us you support your children. This could be the beginning of a whole new life full of possibilities for your children. To make that happen we need your 100% support.

Below you will find a list of the most basic expectations at Charter. This is just the beginning. A lot more detail will follow.

1. Traditional black school shoes in leather or leather look material. Children who do not meet our expectations regarding uniform and appearance will be placed in isolation.

2. No mobile phones on the school site. If a phone is seen or heard it will be confiscated.

3. Girls may wear one small plain gold stud in each earlobe only. No other piercings. No retainers. If ear rings do not conform they will be confiscated. 4. No chewing gum on site. If found with chewing gum pupils will be placed in isolation.

Your children will avoid detentions, isolations, or confiscations if you are a supportive parent. The responsibility lies with you.

We have a huge task ahead of us, but with your support we can offer all pupils their best possible future and the greatest choices in life.

Barry Smith

Headmaster

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy”

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