Tuesday, January 04, 2011

To Miss With Love: the book (sequel to the blog)

This Penguin paperback is due out on 3rd March 2011, and it cannot come more highly recommended. His Grace has already read most of it.
Synopsis
A third of teachers leave within their first term on the job. This one wouldn't quit for all the world.

Meet Furious - sixteen, handsome and completely out of control. Nothing frightens him and no one can get through to him. Now meet Munchkin - a sweet kid with glasses who's an easy target and needs protecting. Then there's Seething and Deranged, two girls who are brimming with bad attitude; Fifty and Cent, who act like gangsters but are afraid of getting beaten up; and Stoic, a brilliant young mind struggling to survive. In the midst of them all, there is a bodyguard and bouncer, a counsellor and confidante, a young woman whose job it is to motivate and inspire them and somehow keep them out of trouble: their teacher. None will make it through the year unscathed. Some may not even make it at all…

Spanning a year of shocking truths and hard-won victories, of fights and phone-thefts, teenage pregnancies and the dreaded OFSTED report, this is the remarkable diary of an inner-city school teacher. Revealing the extraordinary chaos, mismanagement and wrong-thinking that plague our education system, it is a funny, surprising and sometimes heartbreaking journey from the frontlines of the classroom to the heart of modern Britain.

Katharine Birbalsingh

Katharine Birbalsingh is Britain’s most outspoken and controversial teacher. Educated at a comprehensive school, she earned a degree in philosophy and modern languages at Oxford university and has taught for over a decade in inner-city schools. To Miss with Love was for several years an anonymous blog that exposed the reality of inner-city schools and the problems with the education system. She now writes regularly for the Telegraph and has given evidence at the Commons select committee for education. Her views have sparked a national debate.

For those who do not already follow her musings, she is now employed by The Telegraph Blogs. For those who do, and who care, it is a cause of great concern that her pedagogy is now lost to English education.

But doubtless the Executive Headteacher and Governing Body of the St Michael and All Angels Academy are relieved to be rid of her.

And therein lies the tragedy of our education system: the fault lies so often not with the long-suffering teachers, but with the incompetent egos who pass for headteachers and the unqualified puffed-up buffoons who try to be governors.

And, no: Michael Gove's academy strategy is no remedy for that.

17 Comments:

Blogger Simon Cooke said...

You know - and I'm an elected sort - this whole thing makes me want to scream. I feel so impotent, so unable to take the self-important, over-opinionated, ignorant people who fill the upper echalons of our education system. We didn't deserve it...we really didn't. And the children in schools like those where Miss Snuffy taught are the victims. Victims I've seen at work, seen as a councillor and seen struggling to get on in a literate, educated world.

...and despite it all. Despite the failure, the violence, the sadness and the loss...despite all this these people, these academics, headteachers, union leaders, politicians and experts just don't get it. They are destroying the lives of young people.

4 January 2011 at 22:45  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Cooke,

The greater tragedy is that many do see it, but they mistake it for earthly salvation.

4 January 2011 at 22:49  
Anonymous Oswin said...

At such times I generally quote from the 1968 film ''IF'' :

''Education in Britain is like a nubile virgin - scantily clad, and frequently interfered with!''

Since then, she's been sold into slavery and raddled by pox!

4 January 2011 at 23:15  
Blogger OldSouth said...

Thanks for this news, I look forward to reading it.

And thank you for championing her cause early on. It would have been easy to ignore her, and let her suffer her fate alone in silence.

OS

4 January 2011 at 23:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading this book. I hope it evokes in many a new-found respect for teachers - people who work tirelessly as educators, assessors, minders, counsellors, managers, and multiple other things, all year round, for really quite a paltry wage and with little recognition or admiration, as they're so often seen as people who get too many holidays and don't do enough, as parents, headteachers and external authorities make demand after demand upon them, without having much understanding of everything they are faced with in their day to day working life.

5 January 2011 at 00:15  
Blogger English Viking said...

Just to let you know I'm here.

I could post a comment, but I know most are tired with my invective, and I must confess to a little fatigue myself.

Mistake not my silence for weakness.

I know that none will believe it, bit perhaps HIs Grace can confirm it?

WV angst. Seriously. No, really.

5 January 2011 at 02:01  
Blogger Jomo said...

Poor Mr Gove - His solution will only make things worse.

It's beyond me how anyone could have come to the conclusion that allowing Headteachers and Governors even more power will improve the present system.

5 January 2011 at 09:16  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

Jomo said,

It's beyond me how anyone could have come to the conclusion that allowing Headteachers and Governors even more power will improve the present system.

It might, if they were freed from political correctness and the European Human rights act.

5 January 2011 at 10:59  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Maturecheese wrote:

It's beyond me how anyone could have come to the conclusion that allowing Headteachers and Governors even more power will improve the present system.

It might, if they were freed from political correctness and the European Human rights act.

The operative word there is "system". Education does not need one.
A radical approach would be to simply abolish the D of E altogether, except for a tiny skeleton administrative staff, and let professional educators get on with what they have been clled to or trained for.

5 January 2011 at 11:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly the present administration seems perfectly content to hand over the power to decide education policy to the kind of Executive Heads and supine Governing Bodies that have caused our once noble system to collapse into terminal decline. If Mr Gove does not want the job he seems, on other counts, to be sensibly qualified for, he should resign and allow someone who will change things for the better to take it on.

5 January 2011 at 12:45  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

It is noteworthy that very few incompetent teachers are ever dismissed but when a senior teacher takes the lid off the problems she may be disposed off without difficulty.

5 January 2011 at 15:06  
Anonymous Bede said...

Graham Wood says, "Let professional educators get on with what they have been called to or trained for."

As one who had some connection in the past with the education system, I remember when 'progressive thought' began to grow rapidly within it. The trouble started in the Training Colleges, the University Departments of Education and the LEAs. Many existing Heads, and teachers, fought against it, but they were sidelined, and eventually replaced (usually after retirement) by those with the 'correct' outlook. A few valiant teachers, like Katharine Birbalsingh, fight against it - and look where it got her!

The rot starts with the training of teachers.

5 January 2011 at 15:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why we need to take politics out of education. Schools need to be run as service businesses, subject to the discipline of serving their market, and to competing for capital resources. This means both for-profit schools, and takeovers and mergers. In due course the assetts, both physical and intangible, will pass into the hands of those best able to use them to serve their customers.

5 January 2011 at 18:38  
Anonymous berserker-nkl said...

Graham Wood posts:
It might, if they were freed from political correctness and the European Human rights act.

I agree Mr Wood and so what about Article 15 - Derogations
'Threaten the continuance of the organised life of the community.'

Our appalling education system might not immediately threaten the lives of our community but it is a slow burner and might not that be construed a threat? It only has to be a threat.

We have already had The British Government using a derogation:

Thus in A v United Kingdom, the Court dismissed a claim that a derogation lodged by the British government in response to the September 11 attacks was invalid, but went on to find that measures taken by the United Kingdom under that derogation were disproportionate.

Disproportionate! A real PC word what!

Does anyone know what would happen if we ignored the Human Rights Act and refused to pay our fines?

6 January 2011 at 13:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
This is why we need to take politics out of education. Schools need to be run as service businesses, subject to the discipline of serving their market, and to competing for capital resources. This means both for-profit schools, and takeovers and mergers. In due course the assetts, both physical and intangible, will pass into the hands of those best able to use them to serve their customers."

Go Away!

You want education to be run as a 'business' based on profit, mergers and takeovers!

Children as 'customers? Parents scabbling for schools with 'good' 'performance indicators' and 'league tables'??

Get Real!

6 January 2011 at 14:23  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Having long experience of public service, I certainly feel that constant political interference is the main problem. The solution is not getting rid of public services however. It's changing our political system.

8 January 2011 at 07:59  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Myself @ 23:15

Should read 'Cinderella' and not 'virgin' ...

25 January 2011 at 18:27  

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