Friday 29 July 2016

Inside Birbalsingh's Boot Camp - How Michaela Free School 'supports' pupil behaviour

'What's the problem?'   Headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh

Many thanks to the reader who sent me a link to the Michaela Secondary Free School's Behaviour Policy.

It is full of unfamiliar terminology such as 'SLANT-ing' - (apparently a 'good thing') and enough misdemeanours to keep most normal children in detention for weeks. Remedies, including 'self-quizzing' and 'Internal Isolation', remind me of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

However, it is in its attitude to families that we can see a clue to the approach revealed in the school meals controversy LINK.  Families are subject to discipline through their childrem.

The policy states:
Families who choose not to support the school
If a pupil misses one day of Internal Isolation (II) either because the pupil or the family is deliberately avoiding the punishment, the pupil will spend two days in II. The period of II will double in line with the number of days that the family or pupil chooses to stay away from school. So missing two days of II will result in four days of II, missing three days of II will result in six days of II, and so on. There is no upper limit to the number of days of II that could be imposed. We need wholehearted support from all families to maintain our high standards of behaviour and academic progress. In choosing to attend Michaela, families are making the choice to follow our behaviour systems. We have a system of zero tolerance. We ask that all families respect our rules and follow them.
And, just an any good dictator does, Birbalsingh reserves unlimited powers for herself:

No behaviour policy can cover all eventualities. The Headmistress reserves the right to use discretion to help Michaela pupils make better choices and learn the right lessons.
This is the 2016-17 Behaviour Policy it is signed off by the Chair of Governors, Suella Fernandes who is Conservative MP for Fareham and a member of the Hosue of Commons Education Select Committee:


Anonymous said...

Oh dear. More schoolboy/girl errors in the spelling. What's the punishment at Michailing for using 'practice' when you mean 'practise'? Something enjoyably painful I hope.
There's a nice bit of 'marking' of the letter sent by Birbalsingh's gauleiter to the parent involved here:
Isn't it time Gove spoke up in defence of Ms B? Where is he, by the way? Wasn't he in the government or something? Disgusting little pustulating pimple of a man. Gove and KBirb, a match made in heaven......

Rxxxxd said...

SLANT - sit up, lean forward, ask/answer questions, nod/non-verbal communication, track the teacher

seems primarily a way of getting students to show deference. I gather that there is no research to justify it and I expect it will have a negative impact on learning outcomes as students have to focus on obedience first.

Note the first comment here:

The rest of the document is perhaps worse - multiple references to a toilet routine? confiscating electronic equipment for six weeks? These are things which are known to be harmful to groups of students with particular needs.

Anonymous said...

Could we get this woman onto the Brent Council Standards Board as soon as poss?

Anonymous said...

No self expression?, no rolling eyes at Teacher! no tutting! God forbid. Interestingly non of these rules are observed outside of the school. As someone who has witnessed the behaviour of children from this particular school, once they have been released from this institution, called the Michaela Free School, all school rules are forgotten, and upholding their reputation is forgotten. Let us not forget... Education is compulsory .....School is not! see

E. Spring said...

They use reading as a punishment, which says it all. Well, nearly all: are children with physical weakness and disabilities punished for slouching or creatives given detention for daydreaming? Or are such people (those like me) just banned from going there? This ugly school appalls me. Having run family support projects for years based on helping parents understand and meet their own needs to become able to understand and meet their children's, the idea of punishing isolating and shaming children into conformity is chilling and depressing in equal measure.

Anonymous said...

Poor old KBirb. Just when she thinks she's in enough deep shit, who comes up and declares the school we bought for her 'one of the best in the country'? Toby Young! Friend of Michael ('After Brexit, Britain will get its mojo back') Gove and a man recently gently shown the door at his own vanity project 'free' school. See here:

Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

Birbalsingh was born in New Zealand I believe. She didn't pass through North Korea on the way over here d'you think?

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group said...

KB's photo reminds me of a reaction I once got to my 'dress code'. Twenty-five years ago when I had just been okayed by Hammersmith & Fulham Adventure Playschemes to work for them, I visited my two sisters and their families in the West Midlands and was told that with my then very bushy top hair and beard I would "frighten the children" at the inner-city playschemes unless I had a shave and haircut -- which I did not.

Instead, I got on brilliantly with the 8-to-12 year olds, while the teenagers called me, "Jesus."

I wonder what the children of Michaela Free School call KB? Behind her back, I mean.

Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Anonymous said...

If that picture represents her normal appearance I would imagine they call her Edward Scissorhands, Dude.

Anonymous said...

After this I doubt any parent will be putting this down as a first choice, hell not even their last choice. Having went to high school in the 70's when corporal punishment was the norm ... hey send me back there. My parents endorsed corporal punishment if we were naughty but starving us and isolation would not be acceptable maybe Guantanamo bay would be more appropriate. Her name indicates she is Sikh? Let's hope the Sikh community get onboard cos this is definitely not there way of thinking is it?