How The Observer got it wrong on Birbalsingh
Following an interview in last week’s Observer with Katharine Birbalsingh, a group of us wrote in protest to The Observer. . As this letter was not printed today, I am putting it up on the website for LSN readers.
We were sorry to read the subtly uncritical interview with Katharine Birbalsingh in last Sunday’s Observer giving succour to her unbalanced views on state education.
Your interviewer referred to the fact that Ofsted currently judges 60% of schools to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ and then goes on to make the astonishing claim that “it’s safe to to say that ‘mediocre and poor’ would seem a more appropriate verdict.” Birbalsingh herself has gone on record praising the quality of state schools she has previously worked in.
Your interviewer offered no challenge to Birbalsingh’s absurd generalisations concerning differences in teaching and learning in independent and state schools. He did not seem to know that the pro comprehensive movement has consistently suggested reforms to our schools, including an end to academic selection, smaller class sizes, more freedom and support for teachers and enhanced parental involvement.
Birbalsingh conveys her views in a dramatic, personal and inconsistent manner that clearly appeals to the press. Could the Observer now give equal space to the decidedly less sensational views of heads, teachers, parents and students daily involved in our state schools?
Most of these will have a very different perspective on current problems in education, including the damaging role played by current government policy and the continuance of a powerful independent and selective sector hindering the development of first class comprehensive education and genuine social mobility?
Professor Peter Mortimore
Professor Richard Pring
You can read the original interview here. Interestingly, the headline on the internet version of the piece suggests that middle class parents supporting inner city state schools are complicit in the low standards in these schools.A different headline was used in the print version.
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