'Detentions for not smiling': Ex-Norfolk head under fire in new role
- Credit: Archant
A former Norfolk headteacher's controversial methods have come under fire again in his new role.
An ITV investigation uncovered emails sent by former Great Yarmouth Charter Academy headteacher Barry Smith, who called pupils "detainees" when handing out detentions in his new role at Hackney New School, in London.
One teacher, speaking anonymously, told ITV they were "encouraged" to give detentions or demerits if pupils were not smiling or "shuffled" when they walked.
Shortly before his departure, the school denied he had been suspended, but said he had stepped back from day-to-day operations and was working "centrally on a curriculum project", although they refused to say more.
Former Thetford Academy and East Point Academy principal Kevin Blakey filled the vacancy in Great Yarmouth from September.
The ITV investigation claims an average of around 80 detentions are handed out each day, with more than 7,500 since the start of the new year, while leaked emails show half the population of the school were given detentions on one day last year.
They also claim teaching staff were given a handbook containing apparent sexist language to instruct their teaching.
It allegedly states following rules is considered "feminine" and "boys really, really don't want to be perceived as feminine."
You may also want to watch:
The Community Schools Trust, which manages the London school, defended most of its practices to ITV, saying stricter measures were needed after they inherited a "broken school", adding pupils behaviour had significantly improved.
They did, however, admit calling pupils "detainees" was inappropriate, and some of the language used in the staff booklet was "unacceptable."
Mr Smith's methods, although controversial, were praised by inspectors in July 2019, when Ofsted rated the Great Yarmouth Charter Academy as good in all areas.
- 1 Tax inspectors probe 240 furlough fraud cases in Norfolk and Suffolk
- 2 Norfolk campsite voted third best in UK
- 3 'Very small' number of Indian Covid variant cases in Norfolk
- 4 Lorry driver admits causing deaths of two people in A47 crash
- 5 Six North Norfolk beaches awarded blue flag status for summer 2021
- 6 Driver in hospital after BMW car ends up in ditch
- 7 Social distancing stops fish and chip shop's restaurant opening on May 17
- 8 Norfolk lorry drivers clocked for nearly 200 traffic offences in three days
- 9 Indian variant could hamper roadmap, Norfolk health expert says
- 10 Owners of popular street food van open café bistro in Norwich
At the time of his arrival, the school was receiving some of the lowest GCSE results in the country, and inspectors praised Mr Smith's decisive actions to improve behaviour and attitudes to learning.
Some of the stricter policies, however, were criticised by parents, including calling out members of the school's uniform supplier to check the length of girls' skirts, while a schoolgirl was banned for wearing a knitted poppy for Remembrance Day.