Don't assume your children are taught well at school, warns Britain’s strictest headteacher

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Katharine Birbalsingh said there is ‘only so much a school can do’ when it comes to a child’s development - Geoff Pugh
Katharine Birbalsingh said there is ‘only so much a school can do’ when it comes to a child’s development - Geoff Pugh

Do not assume your children are being “taught well” at school, the social mobility tsar has warned, as she says parents must give lessons at home as well.

Katharine Birbalsingh said there has “never been a better time” for mothers and fathers to teach their children at home.

“Don’t assume they are being taught well at school. You might get lucky. Great! But don’t assume it,” she wrote on Twitter. “Teach them after school. Daily. Always. Other parents do. They just aren’t telling you.”

Ms Birbalsingh, who was appointed as the chairman of the Social Mobility Commission last October, has been labelled Britain’s strictest headteacher.

As the head and founder of the Michaela Community School in Brent, North London, her rules mean pupils can earn a detention for offences ranging from turning up to class without a ruler to breaching the silence policy by speaking in corridors.

She told her social media followers that “just eating dinner together and parents talking to their children makes such a difference to the development of a child”.

While schools can try to make up for this, she said, there is “only so much a school can do”.

Ms Birbalsingh advised parents to carry out one-to-one instruction which could be revisited before bedtime.

Last month, she claimed that private school pupils’ learning is “stunted” and they are having to rely on parents to hire personal tutors.

She said she pities children who are educated at fee-paying schools, because they are “not being taught properly” during lessons.

“I look at those private schools and think gosh, they could be so much better. And they could be pushing children so much more and teaching them so much more," the headteacher explained.

“I often feel sorry for children in these schools because they have to depend on their parents to hire tutors for them because they're not being taught properly in their lessons. They have to depend on their mums and dads to take them to museums and so on.”

Dumbing down of standards

Ms Birbalsingh, who was made a CBE last year, rose to prominence at the Tory party conference in 2010, where she delivered an impassioned speech about how schools have been “blinded by Leftist ideology”, leading to a lack of discipline and bad behaviour.

She earned a standing ovation for her scathing attack on a “culture of excuses” and the dumbing down of standards in schools, which she said had driven her from being a Marxist to voting Tory for the first time that year.

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