We are opposed to the proposed Free Schools in Lambeth


May 23rd, 2011 at 4:31 pm

‘backward and uninformed’ – Black educationalist Gus John slams Birbalsingh’s proposed ‘free’ school in Lambeth

Professor Gus John – ‘What is more, we cannot and should not seek to address the issue of black under-achievement in isolation from the other divisions in schooling and without regard to how establishing such schools will impact upon funding for other children (including those hundreds of other black children who won’t gain access to Katharine’s school), each of whom has a right to a good school in their community. This is a recipe for greed, individualism, competitiveness and the very antithesis of social cohesion.

Katharine Birbalsingh seems to think that NO state run school could provide quality education or equip black children with sound values that make them fit for living in civil society. That is frankly a gross insult to those thousands of teachers who do just that every single year, including in an increasing number of those virtually all black schools in the Borough of Lambeth. My youngest daughter went to a state school in Camden, having left one in Haringey that had too much of an anti-learning culture among young black girls, and got her 10A* and 3As at GCSE before going on to City & Islington College and getting 4 As and then on to Oxford to read Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. She is not an exception by any means.

Birbalsingh’s is a backward and uninformed position that simply plays to neo-liberal ideology and to the legitimate anxieties of black parents. But, to get people agreeing with you about a given problem does not in itself justify your particular solution to that problem, especially when those same people do not fully understand all the implications of adopting your solution.’


  • Head
    6:22 pm on May 25th, 2011 1

    Gus John is on the money with her comments.

    Michaela Free School is nothing more than an attempt to create Lambeth Free Grammar School. Selection will be by aspiration with only those parents and children with high aspirations choosing the school. Others will be put off by the longer day and emphasis on Oxbridge and Mandarin. The proposed site of the Old Lilian Baylis is unfit for human co-habitation and riddled with asbestos which is why the recent open day had to be cancelled. The Head will, with no real experience of running a school as a Deputy or as Head, be managed by a group of Governors selected by the Head and Conservative Central Office (2 failed Conservative MPs on the board)

    The justification for the school is poor. Lambeth is a long thin borough so many students do go out of borough. That is because their nearest school, that is their local school, is in the neighbouring borough. If you live next door to Sacred Hear School in Camberwell you live in Lambeth but you will want your child, if Catholic, to go to the local school next door regardless of the fact its in Southwark. The sponsors also fail to notice that Lambeth also imports a huge number of children from local boroughs too. There are no ‘new’ children and there is no population bulge. Only about 6% go private. If one school opens another will have to close.

    There is no demand, as claimed, for places in North Lambeth. There is no demand in central Lambeth where there are 2 new Academies both of which started with a similar PR spin to Michaela Free School. Both found that the demand was not there. One now props up the Lambeth league tables and the other has the worst OfSTED of any Lambeth school. South Lambeth is getting a 4th Academy to keep up with demand. North Lambeth is getting a new school, Durand Academy, which has the same ethos as the Michael Free School.

    North Lambeth schools are not, as claimed, failing our children. Archbishop Tenisons and Stockwell Park far exceed all national averages in 5 AC with English and Maths and the former is almost 100% black boys. Lilian Baylis and Charles Edward Brooke have harder intakes but both are close to the national averages and the former is improving year on year

    The EBacc results in all Lambeth schools, except Dunraven, are poor but they are poor in almost all inner city London schools because they allow choice at 14 as the last government decreed. That means students did have to do History or Geography and a European or Ancient language. They do now and you will watch the figures shoot up

    Part of me admires the Michaela Free School for trying to do something but I am not really sure what they are trying to do. Advance their political careers? Create a job when they cant get one in the 2000 state secondaries? Create something to write about in their blog and book? Create a business opportunity to sell their ideas on generating genius? Time will tell what the true motives are however they should take time to visit the other new Lambeth Academies who started with the same ideals and see what the emporer’s new clothes really look like

  • Koyie
    4:57 pm on June 21st, 2011 2

    You?re on top of the game. Thanks for shnairg.

  • Jane
    10:46 am on July 17th, 2011 3

    One of the things which worries me most about Birbalsingh is the way in which she puts everyone into categories. If someone is in a category she approves of the nickname is affectionate, but still slightly mocking. If the category is one she disapproves of she is insulting.

    Is this really the sort of person who will bring out the best in students? Surely good teachers look beyond such superficialities.


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