St Michael & All Angels Church of England Academy to close
Remember how that teacher spoke out so eloquently against the tragedy of poor teaching standards, low morale, the iniquity of political-correctness and the ubiquity of ‘left-thinking’ teachers who believe the answer to the decline is simply more ‘left thinking’, and so was persecuted for her political beliefs?
Remember how that teacher was publicly humiliated and then forced out by her headteacher, who had been courted by Tony Blair, hailed as a ‘super-head’ and tasked specifically with turning round an Ofsted ‘failing’ school?
Remember that even Mayor Boris could not save her?
Well, it has been announced that St Michael & All Angels Church of England Academy is to close.
You see, the children really did need a visionary educator like Katharine Birbalsingh.
But ‘Dr’ Irene Bishop, the 'Executive Head' who believed she could turn this school round with a part-time commitment of just two days a week, knew better.
And so did the Governing Body and the Diocese of Southwark.
Instead of forcing Ms Birbalsingh out, they should have made her headteacher.
Now, defeated by their own incompetence, they are shutting up shop.
But an absolute tragedy for the hundreds of parents and children whose education is now imperilled further as they begin the almost-impossible search for a truly outstanding school in the area.
And should they fail, as they most likely will, we shall doubtless see even more of the scandalously poor school-leaving standards for which we are all paying.
And there is something about this academy’s closure which is more than a little fishy.
For only a month ago, ‘Dr’ Bishop was lauding her (part-time) self and her school for ‘fighting back’, having overcome Katharine Birbalsingh's great betrayal and almost-mortal blow which ‘hit them hard’.
Clearly, ‘Dr’ Bishop was engaged in a façade of media management: she was spinning it like any good Blairite.
It is perhaps a metaphor for the incompetent management of this school that when you telephone the school office for more information on the imminent closure, you are given a number of # options with a direction to dial the closure ‘hotline’ (08447 707576) and input the academy ID number (75032).
When you do that, you are directed to select #3 for the school office.
Which directs you back the closure ‘hotline’.
Which directs you back to the school office…
And so you are trapped in an automated, infinite loop of time-wasting, demoralising, frustrating bureaucracy under the guise of efficiency and professionalism.
Which is precisely what many teachers in the state sector are forced to endure day after day, as Ms Birbalsingh has made very plain.
But at least such shoddy management incompetence at St Michael and All Angels' is consistent.
It is a tragedy that insecure headteachers and bullying governors are apparently able to terminate the careers of the country’s most passionate, committed and caring and successful teachers, and do so with impunity. Unfortunately, Michael Gove’s academy plan will only serve to strengthen the arms of those heads and governors who wish to ‘team up’ in mutual defence against any teacher with a whistle to blow.
And the law offers them no protection: indeed, the Employment Tribunal process is itself lengthy, bureaucratic and sustains a very concerning precedent against whistle-blowers in the form of ‘Perkin v St George’s Healthcare Trust’.
It is evident that one might have genuine grievance, patiently pursue it through all the correct channels, blow the whistle, and then be dismissed without compensation by a bullying management who conspire to portray you as incompetent and incompatible with their modus operandi.
So, if you wish to speak out in your school about a ‘totally and utterly chaotic’ system which is ‘fundamentally broken’ and which keeps ‘poor children poor’, please expect to be summarily dismissed.
It appears to be more desirable to some headteachers and governors than the alternative of addressing the fundamental problems in order to keep a school open and children educated to a standard which liberates them.