Another article on Katharine Birbalsingh. It's time we read more stories about inspirational teachers in real community schools up and down the country.

Allan Beavis's picture
There is an interview with Katharine Birbalsingh in today’s Evening Standard. She reiterates that she agrees with absolutely everything Gove says, that the present state system expects too little of its students, that “on the estates they’re desperate for this (free school) stuff”,

More admirably, she states that she does not want the sharp-elbowed middle-class types to come charging into the Michaela Community School, named after an inspirational former colleague, which is instead seeking to attract poor, mainly black children from the local estates. Strict discipline, hard pushing is on the agenda and she argues that this is what will encourage aspiration and motivation, although she seems to think that everyone wants to go to Oxbridge and, perhaps, follow the predictable career paths of Establishment figures. But not all children are suited for this and do not necessarily want to attain it. Perhaps their talents are more vocational, so education at the school should surely cater for this section of children? She says she will offer media and cultural analysis to question stereotypes of black people but any good inclusive comprehensive school does this without making a song and dance about in the press.

But can it really be a community school if its ethos is a case of reverse discrimination? Surely this is just another form of segregation, actively excluding or putting off, in her case, the white academically minded middle class, who might find themselves more welcome at West London Free School? Religious free schools (which make up a large number of free school applications) will discriminate because you are the wrong faith or a non-believer. Her school is earmarked for Lambeth, a culturally and socially diverse borough, so it is not surprising that there is resistance to her plans by significant numbers of residents who do not want to see Lambeth schools broken up and ghettoised into factions.

She may now want to distance herself from Toby Young but they both share some things in common – using their “celebrity” to ensure that their free school hopes get as much publicity as possible and impressing Gove into handing over a Funding Agreement; a certain starry-eyed adoration of the private school culture; a disconnect between the probity that is expected of them as school leaders and their need to denigrate comprehensive schools and unions at the same time as thrusting themselves into the limelight.

Despite her desire to be seen as “radical”, Birbalsingh’s vision for teaching is not much different from any good maintained school, so it is hard to see how her school can really justify the millions that may be poured into it and away from other schools in Lambeth who are genuinely inclusive and socially cohesive. I wonder what she will think of the poor black kids (her sentiments, not mine) in the other schools in Lambeth which will fall into disrepair, with severe staffing and operational cuts? How will Michaela help them as it pockets the funds that threaten to compromise their education?

Birbalsingh is famous for being sacked and shunned by what she considers the teaching establishment, so it is in her interests to try and set herself up as the head of a free school. She says that state school teachers are “generally better” that their private school counterparts so I wonder what she thinks of those wonderful teachers who are losing their jobs because of government cuts and education policy and can’t trade on their celebrity to move on and stay in the profession.

We don’t really need more articles on Young and Birbalsingh to push the free school agenda. We need to hear about and read stories of inspirational teachers and real community schools up and down the country who have a track record of making a difference to young people’ lives for years, decades.
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Paul Atherton's picture
Tue, 17/05/2011 - 08:14

Having attended the opening meeting about the Michaela School and received the literature from both anti-campaigners and Unions. I do in part agree with Katharine. There was much disinformation and the campaigners when speaking to them, seemed to contradict themselves constantly.

Firstly, when asked about where the money was coming from Free Schools, they responded by saying Central Government but then said it would impact on the Council's distribution of School funding, but were unable to make the correlation.

Comparisons to dissimilar countries i.e. Finland & Sweden were made. Though acknowledged that there was little point as the size and social structures were not remotely the same as the UK's.

Your argument about Oxford & Cambridge, reminded me about Alan Bennet's "History Boys". There were quite a few Black families in the attendance and they all seemed delighted about the fact that a School would enable a pathway to the Oxbridge Colleges and provide discipline to their children. Something they all felt was lacking in the current local schools in Lambeth.

It's my understanding that Free Schools are offering Children choice. If you don't think your child's aptitude is right for the Michaela Community School then you would look for a school that offered something more appropriate for your child's needs, surely?

All I can see this doing is offering choice to the community. You speak as if Lambeth is already swamped with schools, which it clearly isn't, that all the schools in the Borough are equal in the delivery of education, which they are clearly not and that Church Schools, Academies, Single Sex schools aren't already segregating under the Local Authority, which they clearly are.

Whilst being a resident in Lambeth, my child is growing up in Wales. He attends a school that doesn't give him the right motivation for his needs (they have the philosophy of having all children awarded for effort without peer measurement - that doesn't work for him) - so I hope we see lots more of theses kind of schools setting up all over the UK.

It's my understanding that schools are funded per student, that schools are only permitted to set up where there is a need for them and that they are permitted to make an offering that is different from Local Authority Schools (Michaela Community offer a longer school day, which I know the Mother of my son, as a single parent, would hugely appreciate).

Which tends to imply that they are not taking funding or pupils from other schools but simply offering a greater choice to parents?

Perhaps you could explain what I've misunderstood?

Fiona Millar's picture
Tue, 17/05/2011 - 12:00

I think the key point is whether these new schools will be set up if there isn't a need for more places. If that is the case, they risk siphoning money off from existing local schools because schools revenue funding is based on pupil numbers. The original free school concept was fuelled by the idea that this sort of pure , market led, competition would generally sort out school improvement issues by allowing popular schools to expand and those that were less popular to fold. Unfortunately schools take quite a long time to die and that can be a very negative experience for the pupils in them. It is also the case that parents often fight like tigers to keep local schools open, even if they are not perceived to be successful by other groups in the community.

The DFE seems to have recognised this and has now produced a new, more rigorous process for opening free schools which requires more detailed proof that the new places are both needed and demanded. It isn't yet clear what they will do about schools that some parents may want, but that aren't needed and which may impact negatively on others in the local area.

I have no idea if there is still a need for new school places in Lambeth - there was some years ago - but I do know that there are some very good local schools working hard to deliver exactly the sort of education you describe. It would be a great shame if existing provision was disadvantaged in order to create this new school, and also interesting to hear what the heads, parents and pupils at the other schools feel about this project. I don't think we can treat any schools, existing or notional, in isolation. The impact each has on the other, must be taken into account if all pupils are to be valued equally.

Paul Atherton's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 09:42

Fiona, would you not agree that each case should be measured on its own merits?

It does appear from what you are saying that the DFE has addressed many of peoples fears about the notion of having competitive schools for their own sake.

As you say the system is (from what I've seen to date) very rigorous with many applications not even getting to the first hurdle after the advice of The New School Network or Partnership for Schools is given.

In regards to Lambeth there is a need for 400 new places in this year alone and that will increase year on year. Lambeth Council are already petitioning the Government because they believe that by 2015 that they will not have enough Primary School Places (

A more frightening problem is demonstrated on the report they commissioned for pupil population trends ( which shows a very severe problem in the next 10 years for secondary education placements in Lambeth.

Could you perhaps give a bit more detail about what impacts you believe schools have on one another - most choices from what I have derived seem to be based on geography more than anything else. From the report it's clear that parents who do look for choice often take their children outside of the borough or use Private or Independent Schools.

As for pupils being valued equally, that surely starts with the parents - how do you think we should address that?

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 10:45

If there is a need for new school places in any area, it should be solved in consultation with the whole community, asking all parents what sort of school they want. There have been several long standing campaigns for secondary schools in Lambeth, one of which was successful. Both consulted widely with parents and got the answer that what parents wanted was co-ed, non selective , community schools. I have no idea if a similar consultation has been carried out in this case, or where the need for new places lies, but I do believe money shouldn't be channelled to individual proposers without a wider discussion.
I think I have explained the point re: impact. Money follows the pupils, if there are more places than pupils, some schools' funding then starts to fall, possibly to a level where that school ceases to be viable. This process needs to be managed, not left to the market to sort out.

Nigel Ford's picture
Tue, 17/05/2011 - 08:46

The free school that KB wants to set up does appear to be done with different, more altruistic, motives to that of most of Free Schools and that is to be applauded.

KB is adamant that she wants the free school to be set up in Lambeth which services a poorer catchment area than say neighbouring Westminster where the council is less hostile to the concept of free schools.

I just wonder whether she will receive the approval from Lambeth council to use the old Lilian Baylis school site to set up her Michaela free school and if that is indeed the best site geographically to pitch it. The Evelyn Grace Academy, which is one of the Ark schools, is in close proximity in Brixton and appears to be run with the same ethos as that planned by the Michaela.

There is still a long way to go and finding suitable buildings to advance the conception of this school may yet be a stumbling block.

Allan Beavis's picture
Tue, 17/05/2011 - 10:18

I take your point that Lambeth may be in need of more schools, but funds are better spent on expanding and improving present schools or building new, fit for purpose community schools which could cope with a higher intake of students. This is what can really improve choice.

There is no hard evidence that free schools will be the unequivocal success in overhauling the education system in this country – the evidence in America suggests they are deeply flawed and even Sweden is reviewing the policy. But there IS evidence that comprehensive school education can and does work but this is being ignored or denigrated by the current government so as to give reason for people like Birbalsingh to grab headlines and push the free school agenda as the new saviour of state education.

Her views are contradictory, personal, always sensationalist and calculated to trash comprehensive education and what we don’t hear nearly enough of in the press or mainstream media are the voices of the parents, teachers, students who broadly support the system and want to explore ways of improving it, not dismantling it.

I am not saying that the current system is perfect. I think that most people who support and have in interest in maintaining state schools recognise that improvements can be made – for example in school sizes, more parental involvement, more freedom, investment in schools that are slipping and so on – but this can only be done if the budget for schools is spent improving the present system across the board. Free schools ARE expensive to administrate and to run and the DfE has already published the paltry figures earmarked for free schools. Even if they do end up being a niche, side show to education, it is at least £100m better invested elsewhere and benefiting the majority.

It is about time that equal space in the media is given over to the voices of headteachers, teachers, parents, students, ex-students, governors who are daily involved in our state schools and who can give us a more balanced perspective of the challenges of our state schools. Current government policy is very damaging and a small but vociferous minority has seized on this climate of confusion and scaremongering to further their own self-serving agendas, hamper the development of an excellent comprehensive education and obstruct real social cohesion and mobility.

Paul Atherton's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 11:07

Allan, would you be kind enough to point me to the evidence about Comprehensive School Education, I've not come across very much and my own personal experience wouldn't support the notion (my Brothers had a Grammar School education in Lewis Boys School Pengam housed in the mining valleys of Wales, by the time I got there it was a comprehensive and a poor reflection of its former self), but I'd be interested to read what the educationalists and other researchers have to say on the matter - Thanks.

As I said in my opening salvo, I don't think it helpful comparing Britain to say America or Sweden, the cultures are so different that trying to balance all the variables to compare like with like is nigh on impossible.

I think we also need to be very careful comparing what is written about Katharine with what she actually stands for. She often praises comprehensive schools and their staff (she did on the opening night) and I genuinely believe she wants to do something good for Lambeth and it's residents and especially the Black community.

As you rightly point out, the media is very biased in what it is presenting - from both sides - and I think we are all better off looking for the facts from real sources, as opposed to the pages of the tabloids.

We've yet to see if Free Schools are a good idea but I do think it's an idea worth exploring, not least, because if the numbers are small going to these schools (I think Michaela's is only looking at housing 720 pupils at full capacity) then surely they will address in a small part the overcrowding we find in some Comprehensive Schools?

This give you smaller classes therefore greater student attention and improved teaching.

As we know spending on education went from £29 Billion in 1997 to £63 Billion in 2007 ( and I don't think we can see that 100% increase reflected anywhere in terms of schools - especially as most of the schools budget was aimed at urban regeneration. But again be happy to know if you've got some research on where the money was spent and how it improved things?

I think a comprehensive education may be suitable for many children but as I said it's certainly not right for everybody and if you're advocating for more freedom for Local Authority Schools, then surely giving Free Schools a chance to show that freedom can work for the interests of pupils would strengthen your case?

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 11:20

I thought the whole point about free schools was that they were all to be comprehensive, in other words all ability rather than selective? Here are some facts to counter the frequently made, but false, assertion that comprehensive education has failed.Two simple facts stand out. In 1959, under our then fully selective school system 9% of pupils got five O levels. Around a third of grammar school pupils left with fewer than five. Less than 10% of the population went to university

Today around 70 of 16 year olds get five good GCSEs. Over 40 % school leavers move into HE.

We still have no explanation of how free schools will be able to offer small class sizes if they are to be funded in the same way as other state schools.

Paul Atherton's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 12:01

Sorry Fiona, that maybe my misunderstanding of terminology. I refer to comprehensive schools as those run by Local Authorities as opposed to comprehensives as set up as free schools.

I'm exploring academy funding at the moment and how those schools are funded in part through hiring out heir gyms, fees from catering etc. (e.g. Mossbourne Academy Hackney) if you're interested, I'll get back to you once I've completed my research on that?

Could I ask where you derived the figures you cited, is there a report out there I can get hold of?

Especially interested in the research between 1950's and 1980's and then with the shift from proportional scoring (i.e. 5% would get A's 25% B's etc. against their peer group - regardless of score) to blanket grades (i.e. if you score 90% on an exam you get an A grade, regardless of the peer group) which I think took place in the 90's?


Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 12:13

HI Paul,
There is often confusion between the term 'community school' ( i.e local authority school) and 'comprehensive school' which is any school that (technically atleast) admits an all ability intake. Comprehensive schools take many forms; they can be voluntary aided, foundation, trust academy or community schools.

The whole area of exam grades, boundaries, marking etc is fiendishly complicated. There have been a number of studies done on whether exams have got easier or not and I believe the new qualifications quango is looking at this again at the moment.

My own theory is that exams haven't necessarily got easier. I did my O levels in 1973 which is a year often used as an example of how hard they were!. All my children have done theirs in the last 10 years and in many ways I think the exams are harder now, although people usually look at the questions when the real test is in the marking and what information, sophisticated arguments etc examiners are looking for.

What has changed dramatically is the ability of teachers and schools to coach pupils effectively to pass tests and exams, but I think this is less a reflection on them than on the system they are being asked to operate within, with such pressure from league tables etc which were non existent in our day.

Complicated stuff nonetheless. And there is no single report - it took me some time to compile the information for that post, although this is a very good book. I am pleased to say Adrian also occasionally posts on this site.

I would be very interested in you findings re free school/academy funding. If they are getting extra money to fund smaller classes , I feel this should be available to all schools. There are many maintained schools working hard in disadvantaged communities, some of which are currently laying staff off.

Paul Atherton's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 15:21

Hi Fiona,

Thanks for the clarity.

I had spotted Adrian's Book in your last post but again he doesn't reference where he derived the 1950's figures from either on his web page (I expect it will be in his book?).

Could you perhaps drop me a couple of references from the many sources you used to right your piece if you still have them, it would be incredibly helpful?

Aren't the QCDA closing this year? Is it being replaced with something else?

From my side of the fence as an employer and from my friends that Head departments in various Universities, we'd all argue that undoubtedly standards have dropped. But as I said I'm looking for objective facts (if such things exist).

More than happy to tell you what I discover about the different ways academies have discovered to help with their funding. Hiring out the school Gym & Pool to the local community when not in use, I thought was an inspired idea. And of course all that income is plowed back into the school in Hackney. (

Difficult to see how that kind of set up could be applied to State Maintained schools - it would require LA's to give up authority which seems to be everyones complaint from both sides of the argument?

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 19:21

Any school can let its premises. It is a complete myth that LA's control this sort of activity. Budgets have been delegated to schools since the Conservatives introduced Local Management for Schools in 1988. However it is very unlikely that letting premises would bring in enough money to employ enough staff to significantly cut class sizes for all pupils. Moreover most schools don't have swimming pools and high grade facilities like some of the flagship academies built under the last Labour government , or by the BSF programme so lettings may not be as viable an option as it is for Mossbourne.

If you want the references to statistics, I suggest you look at the references in Adrian's book which itemise Ministry of Education reports into school standards from the 1940s onwards, as well as as numerous research reports into school standards over time. Other links ( to the report on Oxbridge entrance) are in my post.

Re parents wanting comprehensive education, I think it is useful to look at the responses to consultations in areas where there is a shortage of school places in the past, including several in Lambeth in the last decade. They nearly always report parents wanting good local schools with fair admissions and no selection. In other words parents want schools close to where they live that their children can get into. This is one reason why I don't believe we will never see large scale pressure for a return to selection. Indeed one of the reasons selection was finally phased out in most areas was because the then Tory government came under such pressure from middle class parents who were fed up with seeing the majority of their children branded as failures at 11.

Paul Atherton's picture
Thu, 19/05/2011 - 09:08

Thanks for the reference to the Local Management of Schools Act 1988.

I had no idea this had happened nearly 25 years ago.

It would appear that it was that act that brought in the notion of free schools in the first place albeit under the moniker of Grant Maintained Schools (choice then, showed that up to 19% of Secondary Schools including voluntary selective Grammar Schools were chosen by borough residents at it's height in 1998 -

But am I correct in my assertion that the Labour Legislation Schools Standard and Framework Act in 1998 superseded it ( which I understand was brought in to bring Schools back under the auspices of LA's?

And also is it not just Voluntary Aided and Foundation Schools that were allowed to keep their buildings separate from the LEA following this act and therefore only those schools that would be able to generate revenue from their resources for their own use?

Do you remember the Blair announcement in 2005? citing that:

"Every secondary school is expected to become an independent, self-governing academy within five years, Tony Blair said yesterday.

Parents would be given power to change the curriculum, replace failing heads and start new schools, he promised. Anticipating today's education White Paper - "a pivotal moment in the life of this Government" - he outlined radical plans to "complete the reform" of state education in England that Labour started when it came to power eight years ago. "

Again, something that hadn't hit my radar before.

Can I clarify what you mean by selection? Would selection include segregated Schools (ie. Boys Schools & Girls Schools), Church Schools or is it just an admission policy that requires 11 year olds to pass an exam as was the case with the 11 Plus?

And do you have any web-links to the Consultation reports you refer to, I've found something posted by the Secondary School Campaign in Lambeth in 2002 ( that makes references to the consultation report but cannot find the actual report?


Paul Atherton's picture
Thu, 19/05/2011 - 21:32

Let's see if I've got this straight. Currently we have:

State Maintained Schools:
Community Schools - wholly run by the LA, decides admission criteria and owns Land
Foundation & Trust Schools - Run by a Governing Body, Land owned by Foundation or trust, own admission policy
Voluntary Aided Schools - normally faith, land owned usually owned by a religion
Voluntary Controlled Schools - same as above but run by Local Authority

All the above forced to follow the National Curriculum?

Specialist Schools - which adhere to the National Curriculum but operate on Private Sector Sponsorship and additional Government Funding.

Academy Schools - Which can be selective if they were an existing school that was already being so. Funded by the DFe and sometimes a sponsor. Free Curriculum.

City Technical Colleges - Independently funded (not sure what that even means)

Community & Foundation Special Schools - Assume these are state funded

Faith Schools - Are these Church funded?

Grammar Schools - State funded
Maintained Boarding Schools - state funded for lessons but charge for boarding

Independent Schools - paid for by parents - most of charitable trust
Private Schools
Public Schools

Free Schools - same as Academies but set up by parent groups, charities or religious groups.


Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 19/05/2011 - 11:40

Grant maintained schools were still maintained schools, so different from free schools which are independent state schools. THe pre cursors of the academies /free schools were the City Technology Colleges (also independent). Most GM schools then became foundation schools under Labour, so semi autonomous but funded via the LA, rather than controlled/run by local authorities, although community schools aren't really run by LA s either. The real distinction between these schools is in the model of governance as trust/VA/foundation schools ( with a trust foundation behind them) allow the trust to appoint the majority of governors, whereas LA schools don't give any group a majority.

In LA schools the land is still owned by the LA but governors have considerable freedom in how they use that and can let if they wish.

When I refer to selection I mean by academic ability although there is also selection by faith gender etc - also problematic in terms of parental choice but still possible to have comprehensive, all ability single sex or faith schools!

The most obvious example of a successful parent promoted school, following a campaign and consultation is Elmgreen which was clearly set up as a community comprehensive ( voluntary controlled) school within the local authority framework because that was what parents wanted. I see from the website that this school has also recently rejected academy status. THe other Lambeth campaign was for the Nelson Mandela school but I guess that group has given up. They had great difficulty finding a site but were also ( after extensive consultation) committed to a community comprehensive school, again because that is what parents wanted.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 13:13


I haven't formed an opinion of Katherine based on what has been written about her in either the tabloids or broadsheets but from what she herself has said in interviews and, alas, she has come across as overly dramatic and contradictory. It is the contradiction which I feel undermines her message or conviction that she has genuinely good intentions for Lambeth. For example, she may have praised comprehensive schools in her presentation of Michaela Community School, but she has publicly and stridently attacked them in the past.

I don't doubt her commitment but I wonder whether she would not be better off channelling her energies into improving the present system that we have rather than competing with and playing a part in dismantling it. She claims that she has found it impossible to find another teaching job, so perhaps exploiting her celebrity to help set up her free school is her only option. But many teachers, through no fault of their ability or dedication, are losing their jobs because of government cuts and educational reforms and they do not have the access to the media that she has to get their teaching careers back on track. More importantly, there are thousands of inspirational teachers up and down the country who can testify to how successful LA maintained schools can be and we need to hear much more from them.

I agree that our systems and indeed our economy are different than in America and Sweden. However, Gove himself drew inspiration from both these models and launched the free school initiative trying to persuade us that they were fantastic successes in the United States and Sweden. Actually, there have been serious problems with them in both countries so their examples provide a warning as to how very badly wrong this policy can go. There are a number of postings on this site on Swedish free schools and US Charter Schools

Paul Atherton's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 14:54


I would have hoped by now you would have ascertained that I am not interested in the politics of this - so what Gove does or does not say for political point scoring or to make supporting arguments for his initiatives in the press, is of little interest.

What I am interested in, is solid facts and unbiased research (hence my requests) in relation to UK statistics to existing education and future potential.

But the idea of free schools, as I said, I do think worthy of investigation and trial (both as a parent, a graduate and an employer).

KB clearly disagrees with the teaching methods of state run schools and believes that the constraints on staff is preventing discipline etc. Which as I said seems to be supported by a growing number of parents I've spoken to in Lambeth. She's apparently been battling with the system for some years in South London and failed. This seems to her at least, a solution to that problem.

But again, I would ask, can you point me in the direction of the research in relation to the success of a comprehensive education, it would be incredibly helpful?

Davis Lewis's picture
Tue, 13/09/2011 - 11:45

Going back to KB again what prevails in South London schools is not necessarily the case in state schools in other areas of the country. There is sometimes a London centric bias around this issue and around so many others. If KB is saying that there is a teaching method that is used in state schools that cannot be true and how would she know? How many teachers has she seen at work across the country much less London. There are successful state schools but not enough of them. They should all be successful.
One of the problems I have found with Londoners is there is far too much insularity for such a cosmopolitan community. In terms of education there seems to be a reluctance to engage with colleagues from the provinces and that there may be something they could learn from them.
Hitchin's secondary schools are all comprehensive and are all successful and it is not all leafy in Hitchin, try the Westmill Estate and you will see what I mean.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 15:41


I didn't reply to you request for research/data on comprehensive schools as Fiona Millar had already done so.

I think there are a growing number of parents who would rather support maintaining the comprehensive system, especially with savage cuts across public services and education. It's really about a fair division of resources and available funds. The government has created a two tier system, with free schools and academies getting preferential treatment over LA maintained schools. Birbalsingh has exploited this to her advantage and to propagate the theory that free schools will succeed where maintained schools have. Going back to my original post - it would be very fair and much more informative if the media gave equal amount of publicity accorded to Birbalsingh and Young to inspirational teachers and educators who have made and continue to make a success of comprehensive schools.

Allan Beavis's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 15:47

"will succeed where maintained schools have not"

Paul Atherton's picture
Wed, 18/05/2011 - 16:18


You clearly have very strong and emotive views on this subject, that I can obviously respect.

But as I said, I'm looking at this with pragmatist eyes and want the facts.

So you will excuse me if I don't engage with you any further.

If you do come across any research, especially in relation to the numbers of parents who would advocate a comprehensive education, then please do let me know.

In the meantime, thanks for your responses and allowing me on you thread.



Davis Lewis's picture
Tue, 13/09/2011 - 11:38

There are thousands of maintained schools, some have been successful some have not so one cannot really make a blanket statement in this regard. In terms of KB the issue I have had with her is that she applied for a school position, she would have researched the school before applying, she was appointed and within half a tem of working within this school she chose to attend a political conference and castigate her school. In respect of her running an academy like most she is unproven in this undertaking and time will tell whether she has the staying power and the committment to develop a school.
We have no idea as to whether KB is even a good teacher.

Adrian Elliott's picture
Mon, 23/05/2011 - 11:33

Only just seen this, so sorry my comments are a few days old. In reply to Paul the evidence I used in book is cited to sources. There is a wealth of materia,l from the 1950s and 1960s, pointing to the underperformance of the selective system and its effect on social mobility. I'm thinking particularly of the reports - Crowther,Newsom, Early Leaving etc - commissioned by the Conservative governmnents of the time,many of whose senior members were clearly not convinced of the merits of selection

Paul Atherton's picture
Mon, 23/05/2011 - 12:28

Thanks for that Adrian.

Did you perchance come across in your research anything that would address the following question that I put to Fiona?

"Especially interested in the research between 1950′s and 1980′s and then with the shift from proportional grading (i.e. 5% would get A’s 25% B’s etc. against their peer group – regardless of score) to blanket grades (i.e. if you score 90% on an exam you get an A grade, regardless of the peer group) which I think took place in the 90′s?"


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