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Parent says ‘we should trust’ leadership team of Stowupland High School, near Stowmarket, after furore over education consultant Barry Smith





A parent has said they are grateful the behaviour of students at a Suffolk high school is being addressed following a backlash by some over a controversial education consultant.

Concerned parents held a meeting last week after Stowupland High School, near Stowmarket, brought in Barry Smith, of Barry Smith Education, who has a reputation nationally for being strict and his so-called ‘military antics’.

These parents shared their worries over the impact on students with additional needs following a toughening up over behaviour at Stowupland High, saying ‘it’s not a military school’.

Parents spoke of the impact on their children of the focus on behaviour at Stowupland High School. Picture: Mariam Ghaemi
Parents spoke of the impact on their children of the focus on behaviour at Stowupland High School. Picture: Mariam Ghaemi

The John Milton Academy Trust, which runs the school, has said it was working with a number of external parties with a wide range of expertise, including Mr Smith, to enhance the learning environment at the school and bring about improvements.

According to Mr Smith’s own podcast page, he has been described as ‘the toughest teacher in the land’.

A parent, who asked to be anonymous, wanted to get across that things needed to change at the school, which was recently graded ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted.

There has been a backlash to Stowupland High School working with controversial education consultant Barry Smith. Pictures: Varied
There has been a backlash to Stowupland High School working with controversial education consultant Barry Smith. Pictures: Varied

They said: “I am grateful that changes are being made and the behaviour of the students is being addressed.

“The high turnover in staff is a concern and hopefully the changes will ensure our children have a more stable and improved education.

“Both my children have reported feeling much safer at school since the changes came in to the way pupils move around between lessons and as yet I haven't seen anything that causes me concern.

“It is very early days and I believe that most parents realise something radical needs to happen to help our children achieve the best outcomes for each of them, so we should trust the school's leadership and allow them time to do what is in the best interests of the whole school community.”

The academy trust has stressed the school hadn’t changed its policy on behaviour, but this programme of improvement was about implementing the current policy.

The trust said the main focus of Mr Smith’s support was in the training of school staff. SuffolkNews has attempted to speak with him.

“Mr Smith has been working with the trust to support staff in encouraging students to buy into the school’s vision, ethos and expectations for behaviour as part of this improvement programme.

“The trust will keep parents and carers informed of any updates or changes to school policy,” the spokesman said.