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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Toby Young’s Lunch Isolation

Free Schools, and their freedom to make the kinds of rules that might not find favour throughout the education world, have come back into the news after a letter from the deputy head teacher at one of them fetched up at the Daily Mail. Michaela Community School, in North-West London, is headed by Katharine Birbalsingh, a favourite of former Education Secretary Michael “Oiky” Gove.
More less than totally grown-up analysis from Tobes

The letter read “The deadline for this term's lunch payments was 1st June 2016. You are now one week over due [sic] … You are currently £75 overdue. If this full amount is not received within this week your child will be placed into Lunch Isolation … They will receive a Sandwich [sic] and piece of fruit only. They will spend the entire sixty minutes [sic] period in lunch isolation. Only when the entire outstanding sum is paid in full will they be allowed into family lunch with their classmates”. “Entire” and “in full” together. Must try harder.
Katharine Birbalsingh

So what did Ms Birbalsingh have to say to that? “Miss Birbalsingh admitted that she and Miss Kelly [the parent] 'did not see eye to eye’”. She discussed her dealings with parents with someone from the Daily Mail. Ri-i-ight. She alsosaid criticism of the school’s policies such as the lunch isolation sprang from ‘middle-class liberal guilt’”.

So what did Free School enthusiast Toby Young have to say about Ms Birbalsingh and her “zero tolerance” disciplinary methods? Would he exercise discretion, perhaps keeping schtum for once, leaving it to Michaela Community School to deal with the press and the education establishment? But Tobes cannot bear to do such a thing: for him, anyone running a Free School who has the Gove seal of approval is automatically right.
Thus when Ms Birbalsingh and pundit John McTernan were the target of adverse Twitter comment, Tobes stood firm and declared “I'm proud to live in the same country as both of them. They're the best of British”. But still the criticism kept on coming, with one Tweeter asserting “Free schools not required to treat the children as humans @toadmeister must be proud what he [and] his like have achieved”.
Fighting talk for Tobes! What say he? “I wish I could claim some of the credit for Michaela. It's one of the best schools in the country”. It is? Have there been any exam results we can see, which will bear out this claim? Well, no there aren’t, as Michaela Community School has only been established since 2014, so (for instance) GCSE results are still some way off. Perhaps there has been one of those Ofsted visits?
Sadly, no there hasn’t, not yet. So Toby Young, self-proclaimed expert on education matters, says Michaela Community School is “one of the best schools in the country” on the basis of no more information than the claims made by its deputy head (the one who wrote that less than totally grammatically correct letter), and the fact that the Tory Party thinks the head teacher is A Very Wonderful Person.

Then Toby Young wonders why he gets nicknamed Captain Bellend. What a trouper.

17 comments:

Shawlrat said...

Bullying by a headteacher - setting a great example for the students. I note that the parent concerned has withdrawn their child from the school. I'm not surprised.
Havng worked for a great headteacher, I know this is not the right way to deal with children however difficult their circumstances.
Sadly, the egos of this head and Mr Young won't allow them to admit their mistakes.

Peter said...

Other than popping up on television newspaper reviews claiming "black is white" and writing nonsense on Twitter, what does this Bellend actually DO for a living?

Anonymous said...

"...McTernan...best of British..."

Poor old Toby Jug, trying to polish a turd.

As usual.

You can always rely on the Jug for unintentional comedy. Which often is the best type.

Funny, but McTernan's home country has decided it wants no part of that "...best of British..." - I guess the two-bit fraud got found out, and not just by Labour Party members.

Oh how we larfed.

Robin said...

Schools run by ideologues. Imagine allowing your child to become a political pawn.

Alan Hill said...

I don't feel comfortable being on the side of the Spodey Today, but a lot of parents would love to be able to send their kids to a school like Michaela. I do not agree with the policy, but babies and bathwater y'know?

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone 'love to send their kids to a school like Michaela' when - as Fenton points out - it's an unknown quantity at this time?

Alan Hill said...

Because they hypothesise the disciplined, aspirational environment will be good for their children?

Anonymous said...

@Alan Hill the "disciplined, aspirational environment" is only hypothesised as you say. The dreadful spelling & grammar, and the appalling behaviour is actual.

Alan Hill said...


I've worked in an officially excellent school and seen similar dreadful spelling & grammar. It's toe-curling yes, but it isn't actually what's important.

It's kinda weird for the left to suddenly put that much stock in Ofsted inspections and GCSE results, but if you are prepared to de-anon yourself perhaps we could formulate some kind of gentleperson's wager on their first set of GCSE results?

Ultimately, choosing a school (to the extent that one can) is always going to be based on a hypothesis. A school's exam results can fall over a five year period, leadership can change, excellent teachers can leave etc. There's always going to be guesswork involved. But I maintain that a lot of parents would love to be able to send their children to this kind of school, and suspect quite a lot of teachers would jump at the chance to teach, actually teach, at such a school.

Birbalsingh is claiming the school's children are progressing at twice the rate of average (4 sub levels a year as opposed to 2). This will be based on termly grades, and although internally marked and probably subject to some pressure, one would be setting oneself up for a large fall if one really wasn't pretty sure it was more or less true. We would have course be finding out quicker if Ed Balls hadn't scrapped external marking of KS3 exams.

Just because Toby Young is a cunt doesn't mean we have to fucking snarl at everything he supports.

Anonymous said...

Free Schools - set up by the Tory Party so that the state will pay for the offspring of their followers to receive (at other taxpayer's expense!) a "public school" education. Another example of the "capitalist socialism" (take from the many to benefit the few) that we currently live under.

Alan Hill said...


Well no, it isn't; that this will be beneficial is a hypothesis. If you're going to go to town talking about dreadful spelling and grammar you might want to be a little more careful with your articulation.

Birbalsingh states that the students have been achieving by going up 4 KS sub-levels a year against the national average of 2. This can be internally massaged a bit, but to say she's lying is basically to accuse the school of systemic fraud. Admittedly they've only dealt with Year 7 and Year 8 so far, but they appear to have made a good start and snarling doesn't really change that.

Anonymous said...

Just shows.....throw in the word "aspirational" and you've found the clitoris of the terrified lower middle class.

In a more mechanical analogy, it's like pressing a "start" button on a robot.

Anonymous said...

@Alan Hill 00:51.

Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean they're "fucking snarling." Nor does it make Young any less of a "cunt."

Nor does it make you right. Snarling or otherwise.

Alan Hill said...


Wembley Park is not a middle class area, and the school appears to have a high % ethnic minorities - who are not natural Tory voters. And even if they were, the left hardly have a blemish free record when it comes to buying votes.

Snarling is completely what you're doing, you don't actually have an argument to make. The truth is that Tim got this one wrong; Toby Young did not lie, he made an assessment that wasn't based on GCSE results or an OFSTED inspection, because none of those things have happened. It's weak beer, though Zelo Street is generally excellent and one bad story doesn't change that.

Anonymous said...

"...Snarling is completely what you're doing..."

Of course it is, since it's disagreeing with your paranoid nonsense.

That overcooked adverb "completely" is the giveaway.

So is "...natural tory voters...": There's no such thing, anymore than there are "natural labour voters."

As for social class, it has sweet FA to do with where you live or what you earn or the colour of your skin or so-called "ethnicity." It's matter of self-identity......Not that it would occur to your one dimensional view of things.

Alan Hill said...


Paranoid? Srsly?

The rest is a lot of pedantic quibbling over terms in lieu of an argument. Yes you disagree, yes you're a blowhard who can pick at definitions but can't actually parse a sentence; I did not at any point directly link social class to ethnicity.

Anonymous said...

Still avoiding the "natural" bit?

And Yes, you are paranoid.

Now the "snarling" tripe has disappeared you're on to "pedantic."

You know, as in "parsing."

But do keep on blowing hard. Some gullible dope might believe you.