This is an inner city comprehensive school in Southwark where Katherine Birbalsingh had been employed as a Deputy Head since September 2010 but is now facing closure as new year 7 applications had fallen to just 16 making it "non-viable."
It should be noted that St Michaels and All Angels had shown huge improvements in its GCSE performance in 2010 (before the arrival of Ms Birbalsingh) with 46% of pupils gaining 5 or more GCSEs, up from 27% in 2009. The average A'level score had shown similar progress within that timescale by advancing to 196.3 points from 135.9. These improvements had been reflected in a recent positive OFSTED report.
Ms Birbalsingh who had paraded photographs of students from St Michaels on large screens at the Conservative party conference last October and then parodied them during her speech was subsequently suspended by the school. The right wing journalist, Melanie Phillips, later questioned the teacher's judgement in her newpaper column.
The chair of governors, Canon Peter Clark, said that "Ms Birbalsingh's tub-thumping attack on incapable teachers ‘blinded by Leftist ideology’ had dealt a fatal blow to the school. ‘The publicity that she generated was very unhelpful, which certainly didn’t help in terms of pupil recruitment." He added that "an inspection of the school held shortly before Christmas had shown that ‘nothing that she said was right."
In view of the extra public resources and hard work that have gone into this school in making it academy status coupled with the loss of jobs and disruption to childrens education, it is a tragedy its doors will close.
Katherine Birbalsingh herself has neither accepted any blame for its closure nor expressed any dismay.
There may be more to this story than meets the eye but one cannot help but think that if this woman had not been employed at the school (for all of 5 weeks) before her public grandstanding, closure may not have been its destiny.