New free school in Wembley will deliver a private standard of education, claims headteacher

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 March 2014

Katharine Birbalsingh will be the headteacher of Michaela Community School

Katharine Birbalsingh will be the headteacher of Michaela Community School


The headteacher of a new free school in Wembley vows to install impeccable behaviour in pupils while offering a no nonsense approach to learning which will deliver a private standard of education.

Artists impression of how Michaela Community School will look  © 2013 Bond Bryan Architects. Artists impression of how Michaela Community School will look © 2013 Bond Bryan Architects.

Katherine Birbalsingh told the Times Michaela Community School, which will operate at Arena House in North End Road, in September will also implement a system to ‘nurture’ interaction between children and their parents.

The mother-of-one came into the public’s radar after launching a scathing attack on the standard of education at a Conservative party conference back in 2010 – costing her job.

In her speech, she condemned ‘the culture of excuses’ something she stands by today, and aims to deliver a ‘traditional’ approach to schooling.

She said: “Our ethos is very much about teaching children. We do not believe in teachers being facilitators of learning and that’s too often the case.

“We believe in desks being in rows, children looking to the front at their teachers.

“We believe the teacher is a fountain of knowledge who should impart it onto the children.”

Acknowledging that education start from home, Ms Birbalsingh, who has been in the industry for 15 years, will roll out daily behaviour logs and progression reports for pupils, which parents would have to check once a week.

She believes parents of their child’s academic progression on a regular basis.

“The idea is that if the child has been listening in class, they will get a perfect score,” she explains

“There isn’t just homework for the children but homework for parents too. If they don’t complete their homework, they’ll be hearing from me.”

Ms Birbalsingh previously earmarked sites in South London to open the new free school, but was blocked and her proposals to open in Brent were met with some criticisms from people who said Wembley needed a primary not any more secondary schools.

“We chose Brent because we thought it matched what we were trying to do,” Ms Birbalsingh said.

“We want to show that inner city children can learn as much as any private school child. It could have been put in any inner city environment really.

“People are being a little short sighted. Primary children are obviously going to graduate into secondary school.

“The year when it becomes an issue is 2015 –yes we are opening up a little early but would you rather not have a school at all so in 2013 you have a huge problem with numbers.”

Earlier this month, the school offered places to 120 year seven children.

Unlike many modern schools, it will not offer modules in design and technology, citizenship and more notably I.T – which will be taught within other subjects.

Ms Birbalsingh insists Michaela will give parents the choice of sending their children to a school which teaches traditional subjects such as Latin and “mind intensive” modules in mandarin.

Greater emphasis will be put on the teaching of the core subjects English, maths and science, while pupils will be taught music and art for two hours a week respectively.

“We believe in depth before breadth. We offer high quality subjects so that the children exceed in those domains later in life,” she said.

“I can’t make poor people rich, but I can make them rich in grammar and knowledge in the science and so on.”

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