Friday 21 December 2012

Birbalsingh, Gove's heroine, to open free school in Wembley Park

Michael Gove and Katharine Birbalsingh
 The controversial teacher who attacked the 'chaos' of comprehensive education at the Conservative Party Conference and illustrated her talk with photographs of her pupils, claims to have found premises for a secondary free school in Wembley Park.

Katharine Birbalsingh, who got a standing ovation from the Tories,  lost her job as a consequence of her attack and tried to set up a free school in Tooting but was forced to abandon the plans.

A great fan of traditional education and discipline she is prone to throw away remarks, obscure quotations and huge generalisations. She and Michael Gove are mutual admirers and the Daily Mail worships her.

 In a Guardian interview LINK she discussed her views on education:
But Birbalsingh is adamant: "Teaching is the most wonderful job on the planet." She was devastated, she says, when, after her speech, she was suspended from her job and eventually had to resign. "I was unemployable in the state system. You're just not allowed to speak out. I talked to a couple of heads and the atmosphere was: you've done the unthinkable. I went to see a headhunter and he told me to go under the radar for a couple of years and said failed heads get jobs eventually. And I thought: I'm not a failed head, this is ridiculous."
Birbalsingh insists she has nothing against teachers, nor against comprehensives. "It's the system," she says. Her Penguin, To Miss With Love, is withering about Ofsted, which, in Birbalsingh/Snuffy's (she blogged as Snuffy) view, measures the wrong things in the wrong way. She says standards are in headlong decline so that, to get a C in GCSE English, "you don't have to read a Shakespeare play", whereas in fee-charging schools, "they read one Shakespeare play a year". She believes mixed-ability teaching, used in "about half" the schools, is "political fantasy", and says children should be held back a year if they're failing. She thinks black children misbehave because they know that any teacher who disciplines them is accused of racism. "Black kids," writes Miss Snuffy, "all have that winning ace up their sleeve – the race card ... The kid can literally smell the fear. So the teacher starts to back off."
I am unclear where Birbalsingh's Wembley Park free school premises  are, and whether her school (Michaela Community School) had their eyes on Brent Town Hall, but she seems a very unlikely free school partner for Brent Council given the terms for partnerships the council set out last year.LINK

On the MSC website LINK  the proposers state:
The proposers of the Michaela Community School are delighted to announce that they have secured a building in the Wembley Park area of Brent and are now progressing through the pre-opening phase.

We have always been committed to setting up a community school which serves London’s inner-city which sets high expectations and raises standards and aspirations and our choice of location and building is perfect in this respect.

We will be out and about in Brent discussing the school with parents, carers and potential pupils and will post more information here when we have it.
Birbalsingh,  who is named as the 'Proposed' headteacher (I wonder who proposed her?) writes:

Welcome to the website which sets out our proposals for a free school based in the Wembley Park area of Brent.

Michaela Community School (MCS) will be a mixed community secondary school for pupils aged 11-18 of all backgrounds, offering an excellent, traditional education.

The school is approved into ‘pre-opening’ for September 2013 and we have secured a wonderful building in the Wembley Park area of Brent. If you would like to be kept up-to-date with our progress and wish to consider MCS for your child(ren), please fill register your details through this site.

We believe that a first-class education based upon traditional values should be within the reach of every child, no matter their background. MCS will bring the values and advantages of a private school education to young people by providing a highly academic curriculum and strong discipline.
The school is named after Michaela, an inspirational teacher whose traditional values ensured her pupils achieved great success. Michaela died in 2011 but her commitment to tradition, discipline and providing pupils with confidence and ambition will live on through the MCS.

The curriculum will prioritise academic subjects with an emphasis on knowledge-acquisition. Click here to find out more about our curriculum. We will encourage aspiration and motivation and ensure our pupils are confident in the basics. Mastering English and Maths to a high standard will form the basis of learning at the school for every pupil. High-achieving pupils will be stretched and those who are struggling will be given extra tuition in English and Maths as part of an extended day. The academic rigour at the school will offer pupils the opportunity to progress to the very best universities in the country, including the Russell Group universities and Oxford and Cambridge. All of our pupils will leave MCS with high levels of numeracy, reading, writing and spoken English.
If this proposal comes to anything the concentration of schools in the Wembley Park area will increase even more. What will be the impact on neighbouring schools as well as on the image of education in Brent if this  school opens and  Birbalsingh becomes part of our local landscape?

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