'Britain's strictest headteacher' blames PARENTS for pupils' bad behaviour and says 'adults are scared of children'

"BRITAIN'S strictest headteacher" has blamed PARENTS for pupils' bad behaviour – as he claims adults are "afraid" of school-aged kids.

Barry Smith has been blasted for his controversial discipline tactics – which kids' say involved putting sick buckets in classrooms, forcing them to walk with shoulders against the wall and instilling a "mandatory smile" regime.

But Barry – who is now the Regional Director at Community Schools Trust in London – has insisted that "parents need to teach common courtesy" so that teachers don't need to pick up the slack.

Speaking exclusively to the Sun, the former-headmaster said "of course" parents need to do more to ensure their kids behave well, adding: "I don't think that all parents are doing what they should be.

"Some parents are. When you don't support the school, you don't support your child in many cases."

Barry was thrust into the spotlight in 2017, when he took over a failing high school and relaunched it as Great Yarmouth Charter Academy in Norfolk.

There, he is understood to have ordered pupils to walk in single file to lessons, be asleep at 9.30pm and up by 6.30am every day.

He also warned pupils that they would be given a bucket to throw up in if they felt ill in class to cut down on them feigning sickness to get out of lessons.

His methods were immediately lambasted by parents – who accused him of"army-like" behaviour and claimed that some of their children were left scared about going to school.

Then this year, at Hackney New School in East London, parents claimed Barry called pupils "detainees", with youngsters complaining of a "toxic environment".

Barry added:  "I think we bend over backwards to accommodate children and I think instead of accommodating this behaviour we need to promote good behaviour. We need to be more active.

"We live in a society that thinks stricter is negative. Teachers are abused on a daily basis. They are ignored, they are belittled."

He explained that bad behaviour stems from kids "wanting to fit in," adding: "Kids think 'who runs this school, is it the kids or is it the adults?' So they have to fit in."

I think we bend over backwards to accommodate children

"Kids will argue back and forth over very reasonable requests."

He said schools should enforce the mantra"if I am polite to you, you are polite to me".

He added: "It takes strong leadership. It takes lots of assemblies. Teachers actively mingling with children.

"Often adults are afraid of children. And we have to create an environment where everyone feels safe at work.

"When I go and visit schools I stand in the yard and say 'good morning' and hardly any say it back.

"Imagine if every time you speak to somebody they make people feel bad about themselves? Spend a day doing supply teaching."

"Parents need to teach common courtesy so you don't have to.


Angela Karanja – an adolescent psychologist and parenting teenagers expert – agreed that parents have often "dropped the ball" meaning schools ended up tougher.

Angela said parents who had bad experiences growing up in strict families don't want to inflict that on their kids – and so they go soft.

She told the Sun: "In earlier generations, when we were so strict, so many people were damaged.

"So many of us talk about the trauma that we went through. And in doing that, we let it a little bit loose for our kids.

"But then in letting it go we have so many kids that now have not got discipline. It's like we dropped the ball.

"And I believe you can discipline in a way that is more compassionate."

Angela believes in "empowering discipline" to make children "feel heard, seen and valued".

She added: "There is discipline that criticises the child and there is discipline that seeks to connect.

"And discipline that seeks to connect is more empowering because it makes the child – even though they are doing wrong – it still makes them feel heard, seen and valued."


She feels that disciplinary tactics such as detention need to be "directly linked to the problem".

"How does it help for you to detain the kid? How is it helping them improve their behaviour? Is it empowering or is it punishment? 

"Because if it's punishment, the correction is very short-lived – they will probably keep quiet in class tomorrow because they don't want to go to detention but they have resentment towards it.

"And what happens when a kid resents a teacher? If you hate someone and they're trying to teach you something you're very unlikely to open your mind to learn."

"I believe with compassion you can shape anyone."

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