Barry Smith, deputy headteacher at Michaela Academy for three years has had a rough start in his new job as principal of the former Great Yarmouth High School, now relaunched by Inspiration Trust as Great Yarmouth Chartered Academy.
Smith has hit local and national headlines as a result of importing Michaela methods into a school with its own ethos and history, rather than a brand new free school as Michaela was.
Parents admit that things were not perfect at GYHS but some are objecting strongly to the school rules and disciplinary methods as well as the tone of Smith's communications, written and verbal, with parents.
Parents have set up a Facebook page 'Yarmouth High Worried Parents' which currently has more than 1,000 members. A fascinating exchange of views is taking place on the page which cover the specific rules and their implementation but go wider to look at the rights of children and parents. At present pupils are also making contributions on the page and opinions vary with some welcoming the 'calm' that the rules bring and others finding themselves at the receiving end of the demerits. Similarly some parents are keen to challenge, if not the rules, the way they are being implemented. Parents with children with special needs are concerned about whether their child will be able to follow rules such as 'tracking the teacher' where every child has to have his or her eyes on the teacher throughout the lesson. Children on the autistic spectrum often have a problem with making and maintaining eye contact.
The local authority has set up and investigation into the school's exclusion policy which had not been updated to reflect recent DfE guidelines LINK
Tomorrow parents are to meet with Mr Smith. It should be interesting.