Friday, October 08, 2010

Katharine Birbalsingh - the speech which so angered Dr Irene Bishop

Here it is - the speech which so incensed the Executive Headteacher of St Michael and All Angels Academy in Camberwell that this talented deputy headteacher was 'sent home' while her future in the academy is 'under consideration'. Hitherto, it has been available only on BBC iPlayer, but now, thanks to YouTube, it has been democratised for her inspirational message to go out to the four corners of the earth.

His Grace is deeply indebted to Mr Dizzy for discovering that the Executive Headteacher who so disapproves of Ms Birbalsingh's conduct is one Dr Irene Bishop.

This is that same Dr Irene Bishop who, as headteacher at St Saviour's and St Olave's in 2001, permitted Tony Blair to announce the general election of that year from her school hall.

Though she has a slightly different take on events.

Dr Bishop's action against Ms Birbalsingh appears to be an unconscious psychological defense mechanism: Dr Bishop clearly felt 'used' by Tony Blair, who further abused the children in her charge by exploiting them for his blatant partisan posturing. This offended her 'neutrality', and the media furore became, for her, a shameful 'pantomime': "Party politics and schools do not mix well", she opined.

And yet now she has produced, directed and cast this latest pantomime all by herself.

It seems that because she felt so 'used' in 2001, she believes that all teachers might be as naïve as she in allowing unprincipled politicians to take advantage of their benevolence and violate their sacred neutrality. Because she herself once permitted the children in her charge to be treated as political props, she is hyper-cautious to the point of irrational paranoia to ensure that the latest generation of children in her charge are never again so abused.

But Ms Birbalsingh, our beloved Miss Snuffy, is such an experienced teacher and school leader that it beggars belief that she had not secured the necessary permissions both to attend this conference and to mention the children she did.

Dr Irene Bishop has said: "Schools should be apolitical."


She has also advised other head teachers 'to be very careful not to be seen to support one side or the other'.


So please get a sense of proportion and permit Ms Birbalsingh to return to work on Monday, and stop pandering to the political prejudices and biases of your (most vocal?) staff.

His Grace would be most obliged.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Cain's parents (or the other kid's parents) didn't give permission for his image/story to be used then yes, they will suspend her. It's a simple fact that the relationship of trust between a teacher and pupil is treated as priority in the classroom setting.

This isn't about what she said politically or where she said it.

This is about the fact that she possibly betrayed the trust of her pupils.

8 October 2010 at 16:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or not.

You can't know she did or she didn't. As His Grace says, this woman's a deputy head and its really unlikely she hadn't told her head or got the consent of the parents of the kids!

8 October 2010 at 16:27  
Blogger James Hamilton said...

One can't help feeling that some lucky 'free school's shortly going to benefit enormously from the lefty sector's predictable shortsightedness

8 October 2010 at 16:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She did get permission. If you want to support her there is now a FaceBook page where you can show your support. Please share it.

8 October 2010 at 16:41  
Anonymous Elliot Kane said...

Thanks for that, Your Grace. Makes for fascinating viewing.

Seems to me that Katharine is exactly the kind of teacher we need to help our children aspire. I wish her well for the future.

8 October 2010 at 16:41  
Blogger Oswin said...

I agree with every word she said.

However, I winced several times as I watched the video-clip unfold.

If those children are the genuine article, and not some convenient photo' gallery images; then she is in trouble.

If the images are indeed of children whom she has taught; then she must first have the permission of the children, their parents and, I strongly suspect, of both the school and the governing authority concerned.

If however, she does not have such permission; then she has been very unwise indeed.

Should this be the case, Your Grace, she will need all the help she can get.

8 October 2010 at 16:48  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

I am not a Conservative YG, in fact I dislike them and their waffle, but I do like this lady and I admire her courage and conviction. I only hope that this is not going to end up as a classic case of lying down with dogs and coming up with fleas.

So far you seem to be very vocal about support, I only hope it materialises in the real world and she is indeed represented by the conservative dogs she now keeps company with.

Pray do not abandon her now that she has served her purpose.

8 October 2010 at 17:26  
Anonymous Oxbridge Prat said...

According to the Telegraph they have backed down already.

8 October 2010 at 17:48  
Anonymous Ruth Kelly's plaything said...

Superb presentation. It all needed saying - very much so - but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth to see children used as visual aids (whether or not their parents had consented). It simply was not necessary: her case is strong without descending to that level.

Nonetheless, a powerful boost to Gove's backbone in the coming months of whining and threats that he will encounter from the NUT and their running dogs.


8 October 2010 at 18:11  
Blogger Overtiredandemotional said...

What a cracker!! Right from the heart.

8 October 2010 at 18:41  
Anonymous I think therefore I thwam said...

Quite apart from what she said, I am genuinely impressed with her confidence and speaking skills.

8 October 2010 at 19:17  
Anonymous Paul said...

I am in love.

The reaction of the teacher's union reminded me that little 10:10 video released by the eco-taliban to curb carbon emissions by 10%. Oh, how they wish they had that little red button....

9 October 2010 at 07:42  
Anonymous Mungo, London said...

It has been said that during her Tory party conference speech, Ms Birbalsingh showed pictures and referred to particular children she has taught in the past. I would be very interested to know whether she sought consent from the children and/or their guardians to do this? If not, does the very noble cause that she is pursuing justify such a lapse of professionalism?

Ms Birbalsingh talks of her ‘exasperation with modern schooling’ and the limitations of our ‘education culture’ to tackle ‘low levels of achievement by too many black pupils’ - in the rare but extremely disturbing event that a teacher does take advantage of their position of authority by being in any way racist, dogmatic, bigoted or prejudiced in their treatment of students from particular minority groups, how does Ms Birbalsingh/Snuffy suggest that such teachers should be identified and dealt with by the system? While the current state in education may not be ideal, I fear that the reactionary attitude that she is adopting will certainly do more harm than good to the very students that she is concerned about.

9 October 2010 at 22:09  
Anonymous carouser said...

One day when your child comes home with a D in calculus and an A for guerilla warfare you will come to understand that your child is now fully equipped to deal with the modern landscape, just like Katherine Birbalsingh has come to learn.

12 October 2010 at 03:08  
Blogger Femi Yemi said...

Katherine’s speech seems to be more political and personal than anything else, 'a liberal mugged by reality', reminds me of Bill Kristol and the neocon agenda. It is sad and unfortunate that she choice a political party conference to air her views. Racism is not an issue; I bet the Tory faithful loved that. She was either being naive or down right selfish. She seems to love the accolade and most likely will get some political appointment now. Good, because, I don' t think she should remain at Camberwell. Unfortunately, I do not think she can genuinely contribute to solving some of the complex problems we face in areas like Camberwell either.

12 October 2010 at 15:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Katharine really care about her students? 5 schools in over a decade and in one of these for at least 5 years - work it out for yourselves.

I don't think I've ever seen so many self satisfied grins by any speaker no matter how long the speech.

I think Katharine cares about only one person - no prizes for guessing who!

21 February 2011 at 15:41  

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