The headmaster described as the strictest in Britain says ‘habitually rude and aggressive’ children are driving people out of the profession.
Teachers are leaving ‘in droves’ because of pupil behaviour, according to a school leader who has put in place some unusual rules to deal with the perceived problem.
Barry Smith has made headlines for the draconian rules he has enforced when drafted in to improve standards.
The 54-year-old, who now works as a freelance teacher trainer and consultant, has reportedly instituted mandatory morning smiles and compulsory eye contact with staff in previous roles.
Ordering pupils to observe sleeping patterns and punishment for minor infractions are all said to be part of the strict disciplinarians repertoire.
His methods have proved controversial and led to criticism from parents, including allegations he referred to pupils as ‘detainees’ while issuing mass detentions at a Hackney School.
Mr Smith defended his policies and said they are for the good of the education profession as a whole.
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.’
He said teachers are ‘scared’ of children, who are ‘often rude, discourteous and contemptuous’
Mr Smith continued: ‘Teachers are leaving the profession in droves – and being treated badly by children is a major factor.’
He denied his strict rules are about instilling fear, saying: ‘The job of head is to create culture of predictability and safety, built on culture of genuine mutual respect.’
Mr Smith said there is a ‘power struggle’ in classrooms which children are winning and ‘running’ their own schools, adding: ‘Where kids think they stand a chance, they will push it, take liberties and be extremely rude.’
Addressing criticism of his methods, he said: ‘All these silly expressions about me being army-like, militaristic – it’s all utter nonsense. Couldn’t be further from the truth.’
Mr Smith hit the headlines for his unconventional methods at Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, which he was brought in to turn around and relaunched as an academy.
He denied reports which emerged at the time that pupils were told they couldn’t leave the room and were instead provided with a bucket to vomit in if they felt unwell.
In 2020, he stepped back from his role at the school amid denials that he had departed because of an incident in which a pupil was restrained. Further public comment was not made at the time.
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