Katharine Birbalsingh ‘wished to stay but it became clear she could not’
The Daily Mail has confirmed it. Katharine Birbalsingh was forced out by ‘Dr’ Irene Bishop and Canon Peter Clark.
They are respectively the Executive Headteacher and Chairman of Governors of St Michael and All Angels Church of England Academy in Camberwell, whose respective unwarranted action and incompetent inaction forced Ms Birbalsingh to resign as the school’s deputy headteacher after just four weeks in the post.
And all because of a speech in which she disclosed that life in most state secondary schools was ‘totally and utterly chaotic’, with a lack of discipline in black boys in particular, all because of an education system which is ‘fundamentally broken’ and which keeps ‘poor children poor’.
According to ‘Dr Irene Bishop’ and Canon Peter Clark, such statements ‘misrepresented’ their academy (even though Ms Birbalsingh did not mention the place) and the ‘generalisations’ were ‘insulting to many teachers’. They declared: ‘We and all schools have high aspirations for our young people whatever their backgrounds.’
No generalisation there (an no explanation of how this is consonant with the school’s recent damning Ofsted inspection).
‘Dr’ Bishop has since banned The Daily Mail from the staffroom; school assemblies now take their daily texts religiously from The Guardian; Canon Clark is negotiating an ICT upgrade to stream the BBC into each teaching unit so that the Academy's directors of learning and teaching and student behaviour managers can deliver the prescribed lesson plans to their primary stakeholders.
The Sunday Telegraph helpfully informs us that Ms Birbalsingh ‘loses job’, as if it were a contact lens. They confirm the gagging order, disclosing that she is ‘unable to discuss details of her departure’. They also confirm that the school ‘refused to discuss the terms of the teacher's departure’. But they intriguingly continue: ‘However, sources said that she had resigned after being asked to comply with conditions that she did not feel able to comply with.’
‘Dr’ Irene Bishop and Canon Peter Clark have obviously attempted to suppress what they perceive as dissent: when you put a ‘Blairite’ headteacher with an Anglican chairman of governors, it must follow, as the night the day, that the school cannot be false to any man.
Or any black, brown, fat, disabled, gay, bi, trans or incompetent teacher.
But Tories are fair game.
Being false to them is in the cause of a higher philosophical truth for the common political good.
It must have taken quite a lot of political persecution to censor Miss Snuffy.
One has to wonder what has been threatened. The Telegraph discloses that she ‘resigned after being asked to comply with conditions that she did not feel able to comply with’.
What conditions were these? Restricting freedom of speech? Prohibiting enthusiasm? Killing her vision? Imposing severe and unattainable limitations on her uncontrollably-frizzy hair?
The Times (£) has also reported on the affair, but it is The Daily Mail which confirms His Grace’s conjecture: ‘It is understood that she wished to stay but it became clear she could not continue after a series of meetings with senior management.’
What was the tone and manner of these ‘discussions’? Which members of senior management were present? Was Ms Birbalsingh bullied, harassed, threatened, coerced or intimidated? Was she permitted to be accompanied? Were minutes taken? Are they available?
Apparently, ‘a source close to Education Secretary Michael Gove, who spoke at the Tory Conference immediately after Ms Birbalsingh, said he continued to support the teacher but could not interfere in the school’s management of the affair.’
Well, the Secretary of State most certainly does have the power to intervene, granted to him by Parliament. And so do the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Kingston.
It is a state-funded Church of England school: it might have academy liberties, but as long as public and church monies are involved it remains accountable both to politicians (for the people) and clergy (for the church). Of course, no clergy will sit in judgment upon Canon Clark, but it remains the task of the present Secretary of State to roll his predecessor’s ‘world-class education system’.
Despite a decade of ‘Education, education, education’, the UK has fallen from fourth to 14th in the international rankings in science; from seventh in literacy to 17th; and plummeted from eighth to 24th in maths.
Could someone please explain to His Grace how this empirical deterioration is consistent with ‘Dr’ Bishop’s and Canon Clark’s assertion that ‘(they) and all schools have high aspirations for our young people’, or with the annual ritual whereby those who are ‘blinded by Leftist ideology’ pat themselves on the back because of record levels of success in GCSEs and A-levels?
Ms Birbalsingh is not a whistleblower in the sense that she sought to disclose any hitherto concealed illegal activity. But by drawing the nation’s attention to the toxic combination of disabling political correctness and rampant grade-inflation in the education system, she took a stroll in the valley of professional death.
She should fear no evil:
For His Grace is with her;
His blog and communicants, they comfort her.
Ms Birbalsingh is concerned with academic rigour and the pursuit of academic excellence, both of which have been largely absent from reams of successive Labour education white papers. The three Rs were abandoned as pupils were reduced to utilitarian ‘economic imperatives’ in the process of the acquisition of superficial skills and debased qualifications. The league table became the fount of all knowledge, and so headteachers sought to manipulate and scheme in whatever way they needed to in order to create the perception of a successful school.
And, of course, for their own glory.
Which brings His Grace rather neatly to ‘Dr’ Irene Bishop.
She is very happy to talk about her professional ‘cock-ups’, and to that list she really ought to add the everyday use of her doctorate.
Because it is not quite as it appears.
Or as she presents.
Or even boasts.
On the video welcoming everyone to St Saviour’s and St Olave’s, she says: “My name is Dr Irene Bishop.”
‘Irene’ she may have been given by her parents.
‘Bishop’ she appears to have gained from her husband.
But ‘My name is Doctor…’?
Is she a time lord?
Did a vicar christen her with a divinely-bestowed doctorate?
Her doctorate is not earned; it is honorary.
Nothing wrong with that, except that when one is awarded an honorary doctorate, one does not usually style oneself with the title.
Debrett’s confirms the protocol.
This is because proper academic doctors (as opposed to the medical type) have all usually spent about 20 years or so getting educated. It is a hard-earned degree; indeed, the highest degree one can earn for graduate study.
An honorary doctorate is bestowed by universities who wish to honour or recognise a dignitary, benefactor, or notable alumnus/alumna. The University of Exeter clearly wished to bestow such recognition upon Irene Bishop. Perhaps she did her BEd there, or something. His Grace does not know. He has (twice) enquired, but ‘Dr’ Bishop has not had the courtesy to respond.
Exeter are quite clear about their criteria for honorary docorates:
"Honorary degrees may only be awarded to candidates without referenceA significant PR benefit?
to the 5 additional criteria if a very significant PR benefit can be
Surely the honorary doctorate of a 'Blairite' headteacher couldn't be spun, could it?
Usually, neither the university nor the honouree are naïve enough to believe that an honorary doctorate actually confers a full doctorate, and so those with honorary degrees do not use the title.
But ‘Dr’ Bishop clearly believes that having a doctorate, or conveying the impression that one is very highly educated, adds a certain perceived prestige to her otherwise apparently inadequate qualifications.
Her Bachelor of Education degree is not subject-specific and is little more than a CertEd licence to teach. Her MA was probably acquired ‘on-the-job’, probably a 10,000-word dissertation on some aspect of school improvement which she was having to undertake in any case.
So Ms Birbalsingh, with her hard-earned Oxford degree in French and Philosophy, is altogether more highly academically qualified than Mrs Bishop (as she will henceforth be styled), just as she is in her personal and professional attributes.
Mrs Bishop appears to have been appointed by Canon Peter Clark, who is fairly anonymous and quite obscure, which is a good thing. Having been the vicar at Battersea Christ Church and St Stephen (Southwark), he retired, according to The Times, in 2008.
But according to Wandsworth Council, he is still there.
If one studies the educational ethos of the Diocese of Southwark, one reads that they seek to glorify Christ and uphold Christian values. When it comes to their treatment of staff, they say they are ‘fair, consistent and objective’ and ‘encourage all employees to achieve and maintain high standards of performance.’
They also claim to offer ‘well-planned support and/or counselling’ to their staff.
Mrs Bishop is very fond of chaplains.
Pray, who counselled, guided, supported or encouraged Katharine Birbalsingh?
Who cared? Who listened? Who loved?
Mrs Bishop’s Christian values appear to be as superficial as her doctorate.
Canon Clark should accept her resignation as swiftly as he accepted that of Ms Birbalsingh.
And then do the honourable thing himself.