Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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The school the fifth Education Secretary in four months could learn from


WITH the appointment of Gillian Keegan, we now have our fifth Education Secretary in four months. Such a rapid turnover is but one of the many signs that the government has abandoned education to an unaccountable Whitehall and ‘progressive’ education establishment which would rather see schools as an extension of social services. The result is steadily falling performance outcomes, disguised by inflated grades.  

For a considerable time now this establishment has seemed ‘more interested in indoctrinating young people in woke ideas, than in passing on knowledge to the next generations,’ according to Spiked writer Neil Davenport. ‘Parents are being sidelined when it comes to moral and social matters.’ Gender transition, for instance, is encouraged without parental consent, or even knowledge. During Covid, unions kept schools closed for as long as possible, a terrible reflection of how much they valued their role in actively educating children.

They claim this will lead to ‘a fairer society’. In fact they are condemning generations of pupils to a skill-free, knowledge-lite future, which renders them unfulfilled, unemployable, and socially adrift, and leaves ethnic minority children even more socially disadvantaged than ever.                                              

One island of common sense in this area is the Michaela Community School in Wembley. Head teacher Katherine Birbalsingh runs her school along traditional lines of teaching style and discipline. Poor behaviour is not tolerated, and teachers have the highest expectations of pupil achievement. Marie Douada, reviewing the recent film made about the school, suggests that maybe we should all go to Michaela.

The school is acknowledged as one of the outstanding successes of UK education. ‘Our knowledge-led curriculum is distinctive,’ reads its prospectus. ‘It is crafted to ensure that all pupils achieve broad, deep subject expertise. We prioritise the core academic subjects that are a strong preparation for further study, understanding of the world, and fulfilling lives.’

So, when Jordan Peterson visited the school last month he was inspired and moved by what he saw. 

In response there were calls for Ms Birbalsingh to be sacked

Pure cancel culture of the very remedies needed to fulfil every pupil’s potential.

A high proportion of Michaela pupils come from ethnic minority and immigrant backgrounds, where English may not be the first language. But far from reneging on its responsibility to teach literacy and the King’s English, Birbalsingh insists that all pupils must be taught in depth about all things British. She believes that ethnic minority schoolchildren should be taught to sing the National Anthem. 

These children, she states, can suffer poor teaching of basic cultural knowledge because teachers believe they cannot identify with so-called white things. This has the effect of teaching the child that he does not belong in his own country, and can leave them ripe for radicalisation. ‘The determination of the progressives to deny ethnic minorities their birthright to identify as British is outrageous.’

The new Education Secretary might do worse than visit the school, and see everything amazing that is going on there. Real world solutions that work, exactly what every school in the country needs, exactly what diligent parents want and expect from our taxpayer-funded education system. A real tried and tested conservative solution, which, to judge from the Michaela pupils, appears to be life-enhancing, and, especially, great fun. How about it, Ms Keegan?

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Janice Davis
Janice Davis
Janice Davis is a grandmother and former girls’ grammar school teacher

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