New principal of Great Yarmouth Charter Academy apologises to predecessor for war-zone comment

Former headteacher of Great Yarmouth High School, Ivan Pegg, and the now principal, Barry Smith, of

Former headteacher of Great Yarmouth High School, Ivan Pegg, and the now principal, Barry Smith, of the newly renamed Great Yarmouth Charter Academy have clashed over the school's record. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

The new principal of a school at the centre of a row over draconian rules has apologised to a former head for comments about the school's past.

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy.
Picture: David Hannant

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy. Picture: David Hannant - Credit: Archant

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy has received international attention over its new rules.

In an interview with this newspaper last week, principal Barry Smith said an approach was needed to turn things around at the school – which he said, 20 years ago, was like a 'war zone'.

Ivan Pegg, 72, was head of Great Yarmouth High School for 13 years in the late 1980s and 90s.

The ex-school leader challenged the Mr Smith's remarks, after he said: 'So many parents have come in, a little tear in their eye, can't believe the order because they knew what it was like 20 years ago, when it was a war zone.'

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Mr Pegg who now lives near Acle was appalled by the comment that 20 years ago the school was 'like a war zone.'

He said it was on the way to becoming oversubscribed and to reaching national average GCSE results for comprehensive schools.

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He added that it was a lovely place to work, as confirmed by Ofsted and the recognition of No 10 Downing Street after he was invited to meet then prime minister Tony Blair.

Mr Pegg added: 'It's very unfair on the hard working teachers and pupils there at the time. It made it sound like the children went through a terrible time.'

Mr Pegg said that 39.4pc achieved a grade A-C at GCSE, which was then the national average for comprehensives.

'I strongly support what the new head is trying to do and I think he's right in addressing student behaviour. We were achieving then what the new principal is attempting to achieve.'

Mr Smith received a email from the Inspiration Trust academy chain, which runs the school, who apologised and admitted the new principal had 'mispoke.'

The spokesman added: 'I would like to apologise on behalf of both Mr Smith and the trust for this unfortunate error.

'Mr Smith undertook a number of interviews that day, and misspoke on this occasion in referring to 20 years ago, instead of more recent events.

'We regret any confusion or upset that this may have caused.

'The school does indeed have a long and proud history and we hope to return it to the heights enjoyed during your leadership in due course.'

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