Children at an inner London state school in one of the roughest, most deprived, ethnically diverse parts of Britain have won spectacular results in their exams.
— Katharine Birbalsingh (@Miss_Snuffy) August 22, 2019
But instead of celebrating the children’s success, the left is spitting blood:
Some one needs to educate this head teacher that for kids life is much more than bloody discipline and GCSE.
You only have youth once.
Say no to educational robots.
This school will always be oddball.
It will never catch on.
— Gavin Singh (@GovinderSingh20) August 23, 2019
Why does the success of the Michaela School so infuriate the left?
Because though the headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh is black, she’s the wrong kind of black: a conservative who doesn’t believe in playing the race card or identity politics.
Because though the kids come from largely working-class, migration-background families, they are the wrong kind of working-class immigrants: ones who don’t know their role is to be victims and to blame their failures on racism and government inaction.
Because though the results are some of the best in the country, they were achieved using the wrong kind of methods: not the “child-centred”, supposedly creativity-nurturing, discipline-lite laissez-faire approach as recommended by the leftist educational establishment — aka the Blob — but with teaching methods so rigorous and demanding that classes are like a cross between a Trappist monastery and a Marine boot camp.
I know because I’ve been to visit the Michaela School — anyone can, with a bit of advanced notice — and was utterly blown away by what I saw.
It’s non-selective (so it can’t be accused of cherry-picking the best local talent); it’s most certainly not in a wealthy catchment area (very few of the kids are white; only one in the entire school is middle-class; many if not most of the girls wear hijabs); and it receives the same per-pupil funding as any other British state school. Yet astonishingly, its first ever GCSE results (the exams taken by British 16-year olds) were among the best in the country.
Just have a look at this video (keep the sound turned down because there’s a lot of screeching) of one of the girls discovering she got the highest possible grade in every single one of her subjects.
I am most proud of the young adults our pupils have become: kind, considerate & grateful. They look after each other. She gets straight 9s & her friends are so excited for her. GCSE grades are great! But this is better. #MichaelaResults pic.twitter.com/HUd0GnMGbN
— Katharine Birbalsingh (@Miss_Snuffy) August 22, 2019
These are children who, had they gone to your average state school, would have had their studies disrupted by kids who didn’t want to work in classes run by teachers who couldn’t keep discipline. It’s highly unlikely that they would have done anywhere near as well.
So what, exactly, is Michaela School’s secret?
It’s no secret at all, really. Good teachers and good schools have known it for generations, but decades of dominance by “progressives” have largely consigned these methods to the dustbin of history.
Basically, it boils down to discipline; dedicated, enthusiastic, teacher-led classes; hard work from the children; traditional, rote-learning methods including times tables, grammar, and regular tests, strict marking, and no “all shall have prizes” rewards just for turning up — no excuses.
I sat in some of the classes. They are conducted in near-total silence. Only the teacher is allowed to speak. The pupils only speak once they’ve raised their hand and have been invited to do so by the teacher. There’s lots of eager competition to answer any questions the teacher asks (academic attainment is valued; no one thinks it’s cool to slack or do badly).
Between classes, pupils move swiftly (but running is banned) and silently. Lateness is punished. So is turning up to school with incorrect uniform or without the correct stationery or textbooks. (Most of the textbooks are produced by the teachers themselves — the ones available on the market being deemed insufficiently rigorous).
Yes. Our detractors don’t understand that it is thanks to THEM that everyone is shouting about us! No other school in the country has been so vilified as Michaela. Normal ppl see that as unfair. So when we do well, it becomes a story! Ƕ#HatersGonnaHate https://t.co/2wO7VCnTUQ
— Katharine Birbalsingh (@Miss_Snuffy) August 24, 2019
When you visit, you have lunch with the children. Before they sit down, the children all have to declaim in unison one of the old-fashioned, uplifting poems they have to learn — Kipling’s If; Invictus by William Ernest Henley; etc. Then, as they wolf down their food (there isn’t space for all the children to eat at once, so lunch has to be conducted in two very swift sittings), they engage their visitors in conversation.
These are children in their early teens, often from the kinds of backgrounds where their peers are either knifing one another or buried in Fortnite. But very much unlike their peers they do not communicate in grunts and they look you in the eye.
I was very impressed by Michaela, its headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh, its dedicated teachers, and its extraordinary kids. Their success doesn’t surprise me at all but I’m glad they’ve had it because they totally deserve it.
Let me tell you the most impressive thing of all I found at Michaela: when we talked about Brexit, half the kids on my table made an intelligent case for it. Can you imagine that happening anywhere else in the brainwashed, left-indoctrinated state sector?
The Left hates Michaela because it’s an indictment of all the “progressive” values which have failed kids in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere for decades. Michaela is a shaming reminder of how good state schools could be if teachers pulled their socks up, stopped blaming their pupils’ failures on inadequate funding or ethnicity, and got on with the job of actually teaching.