Head Teacher Imposes Extremely Strict Rules on Secondary Students

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. rule with an iron fist / rulˈaɪ wɪθ ən ərn fɪst / (idiom) – to have ruthless or cruel control over something

    The students complained that the teachers ruled with an iron fist because they were too strict.

  2. make headlines / meɪk ˈhɛdˌlaɪns / (idiom) – to be on the news because of something important

    The students who had the highest scores in the national exams made headlines.

  3. suspend / səˈspɛnd / (v) – to force someone to leave a place (i.e. school) for a period of time as a punishment

    In our school, students can be suspended if they hurt other students.

  4. restriction / rɪˈstrɪk ʃən / (n) – a rule that forbids something

    The school implements strict clothing restrictions.

  5. controversial / ˌkɒn trəˈvɜr ʃəl / (adj) – referring to something that causes arguments or lengthy discussions

    The controversial issue has been in the papers for many weeks now.


Read the text below.

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy’s head teacher is ruling the school with an iron fist.

The academy hired Barry Smith, who has previously made headlines for imposing extremely strict rules, as its new head teacher last summer in hopes to improve the school’s performance. It was around the same time that the academy ranked among the worst schools in England and Wales. In fact, only 30% of its students passed English and Math in last year’s qualification exam for secondary students.

Recently, the head teacher sent a memo banning certain hairstyles for male students. The banned hairstyles were mostly characterized by long, curly hair at the top and shaved hair on the sides. The memo said that students who do not follow the new policy would either be sent home or get suspended.

The school already displayed photos of the banned styles around its building. But if the parents want to know more about the hairstyles, the school can send them a PowerPoint presentation.

Just a year before the haircut restriction, the head teacher had already implemented several controversial rules in the school. Among these are requiring students to walk in one line in corridors and banning them from using phones and taking toilet breaks during class. Students were even told to use a bucket in case they ever needed to throw up in class.

Prior to the publicity of his extreme policies, Smith sent a letter to parents saying that there would be new disciplinary rules and that he would expect better performance from students.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that the head teacher’s way of improving the school’s performance is justified? Why or why not?
• If you were the head teacher, what policies would you implement to discipline students? Explain.

Discussion B

• Why do you think some schools do not perform well? Discuss.
• How can you prevent those issues from happening?