‘Britain’s strictest headmaster’ says children are “habitually rude and aggressive” – and are driving teachers out of the profession “in droves”.
Barry Smith, 54, has made a name for himself as a no-nonsense teacher over the years, and now works as a freelance teacher trainer and consultant.
He’s been accused of imposing strict rules like mandatory morning smiles and compulsory eye contact with staff.
But he has defended his approach and said teachers being bullied by KIDS is driving staff out of the profession.
He said: “Children are habitually rude and aggressive – it’s a societal issue.
“What I do is go round schools showing teachers how they can teach courtesy to children.
“I teach them to show kindness but also to show boundaries so everyone knows where they stand.
“In so many schools teachers are scared of children – children are often rude, discourteous and contemptuous of children.
“Teachers are leaving the profession in droves – and being treated badly by children is a major factor.”
The controversial former head teacher said it’s not about instilling fear in kids – and he encourages teachers to show “warmth and friendliness.”
But he also feels discipline is sometimes needed to ensure children show teachers courtesy.
He said: “Everyone did it at school – that teacher, you know you can mess around for. That one, you know you need to behave.
“The job of head is to create culture of predictability and safety, built on culture of genuine mutual respect.”
He feels the reason so many teachers are leaving the profession is partly down to disrespect by children they teach.
Barry said it is partly due to “ineffective bureaucracy”.
But he said a “major factor is being treated badly by the children”.
He said: “We can’t have the children running schools. There is a power struggle.
“Where kids think they stand a chance, they will push it, take liberties and be extremely rude.
“But adult authority is a good thing if it comes with the culture of genuine mutual respect.”
He responded to criticisms saying: “All these silly expressions about me being army-like, militaristic – it’s all utter nonsense. Couldn’t be further from the truth.”
In 2017 Mr Smith took over a failing school before re-launching it as the Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, Norfolk.
It was reported his rules included telling pupils they couldn’t leave the room when they felt ill – and instead would be given buckets to throw up in.
He also ordered kids to be asleep at 9.30pm and up by 6.30am every day and instilled a “mandatory smile” regime for children.
He allegedly even sent a letter to parents dictating what haircuts boys were and weren’t allowed to have.
At his next posting at Hackney New School in East London in February 2020, he once gave HALF the school detention in one day.
According to an ITV investigation, he called the children “detainees” – and also punished those who didn’t smile or shuffled too much.
After his visit to Faversham, it was reported last October a group of friends were put into “isolation” and given detention after arriving one minute late to school when their train was delayed.
People have said he made schoolkids fold their arms when they speak, recite chants about good behaviour, and even miss lessons to go to assemblies about discipline.
But he said: “I introduce policies that develop a culture of genuine mutual respect.
“Teachers are your boss, but we lead with kindness and courtesy. I expect kids to be as polite to us as we are to them.”
He denied not allowing children to leave the room when they’re feeling sick – saying it is a “complete misrepresentation of something said long ago”.