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Notoriously strict headteacher leaves school - days after Trust denies suspending him

PUBLISHED: 15:53 27 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:57 27 January 2020

Barry Smith, principal at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, run by the Inspiration Trust. 
Picture: Angela Sharpe

Barry Smith, principal at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, run by the Inspiration Trust. Picture: Angela Sharpe

Angela Sharpe

A "Marmite" headteacher has left a Norfolk school, days after it was denied he had been suspended.

Barry Smith, principal of Great Yarmouth Charter Academy. Picture: ArchantBarry Smith, principal of Great Yarmouth Charter Academy. Picture: Archant

Controversy flared up last week after Barry Smith "stepped back" from running Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, with the school's Trust saying he was "working centrally on a project."

Yet parents were informed today that the headteacher, who warned he would not tolerate "indiscipline, disrespect, bullying, and a lack of parental support" upon his arrival, had left his role.

A letter had been sent to parents on Friday, January 21, acknowledging Mr Smith has not been in school this term, with vice principal Darren Hollingsworth and executive principal Iain Mackintosh in charge.

Inspiration Trust have not clarified whether Mr Smith has left the trust.

A spokesperson from Inspiration Trust said: "Barry Smith is to leave Great Yarmouth Charter Academy.

"Inspiration Trust will be recruiting for a new Principal to continue the process of transformation and improvement.

"Mr Smith played a significant part in leading the changes to the culture and ethos of the academy.

"During his time at Charter, the academy received a 'Good' rating from Ofsted, who noted that leaders had 'established a culture where pupils feel that they can succeed, and staff believe that they can make a difference'.

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"We will be recruiting for a replacement in the near future and, in the meantime, the school will continue to be run by the executive principal and deputy principal.

"They are supported by the fantastic team at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy and will continue the process of transformation and improvement commenced under Mr Smith.

"We will update parents and staff on the recruitment process in due course."

Norfolk County Councillor Mike Smith-Clare described the headteacher as a "Marmite figure."

He said: "I am surprised at what is going on because it has been just under a week since the last announcement.

"The first thing we need to know if whether he has left the Trust, or if he has just been moved over centrally.

"He has been a Marmite headteacher in terms of his popularity, and there will be a lot of people who will be sad at not having the chance to say goodbye."

Mr Smith is co-founder and former deputy principal at Michaela Community School in London, which has built a reputation for being one of the toughest schools in the country. Yet some of his stricter policies haven't always been well received in the town.

Members of the school's uniform supplier were called out to check the length of girls' skirts in October 2018, while a schoolgirl was banned from wearing a knitted poppy for Remembrance Day in 2018.

In February last year, a year 11 pupil was told his "meet me at McDonald's" haircut was unsuitable for school and was put in isolation.

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