The Michaela School is a shaming reminder of how good state schools could be if it wasn't for the Left
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. But instead of celebrating the children’s success, the left is spitting blood.
Although the headmistress of the Michaela School - Katharine Birbalsingh - is black, in the eyes of the left she is the wrong kind of black: a conservative who doesn’t believe in playing the race card or identity politics.
The kids come from largely working-class, migration-background families, but in the eyes of the left, 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.
The results are some of the best in the country, but in the eyes of the left, 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.
The Michaela school is 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.
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.
The classes 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).
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.
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.
Editor's comment - The actions of the 'progressive' Left in robbing an entire generation of schoolchildren of their educational prospects and consequent life chances is nothing short of criminal. Katherine Birbalsingh deserves a medal for perseverance in the face of adversity.