Katharine Birbalsingh, pretty well self-appointed head of the Michaela Academy free school, has this week written to primary headteacher asking for their help in recruiting pupils to her new school. She wants Michaela's meetings advertised and letters put in the book bag of Year 5 pupils with information for parents about the school.
As by its very nature the school has no track record, exam results, Ofsted report and hasn't appointed all its staff, parents would be advised to treat shiny brochures and grand words with scepticism.
Tom Stone wrote to local newspapers about his experience of a Michaela meeting but it was not published. Instead I publish it here as a Guest Blog:
I attended the consultation meeting on Saturday15th June at Brent Town Hall concerning the new proposed Michaela Free School. This was a very frightening and scary event,one that left me feeling very cold and concerned.
To quote the Headteacher in her address to those attending, she promised "that the School will teach lots of stuff". No, suspend your disbelief, this is the new guiding mantra of the Michaela Community School.Yes, lots of stuff will be taught! This school will also apply Eton/Public School type of pressure daily to its pupils,with tests every week and the results will be published and known to all. Yes, we know the current prime minister was educated at a public school and so were a good few of his cabinet, but just look at how they are running the county ,hardly a good advert for private education surely! Pupils with confidence and self esteem issues and pupils with special needs had better watch out too, your friends will all know your test scores and use it to bully and harass you - great!
The latest research from Oxford Brookes University states that students who have been to state schools were more likely to complete their degrees and that they were also more likely to get a good degree ,classed as a first or 2:1, than their privately educated counterparts. Why then was the Headteacher at this meeting taking so much delight in running down the UK' s State Education. American type charter Schools -as praised by the Head, are hardly out of the headlines in the USA-for all the wrong reasons!
Another fact to point out is this is not going to be a local Community School, there were people from Harrow, Haringey and Islington at the meeting. It is not going to be a cosy little haven of Wembley schoolchildren, this school will be taking in anyone foolish enough to choose it. A school with no grounds, a school set up in an office building and a school that is not needed-it is directly opposite another Secondary school!
The Headteacher obviously preaches what she believes too. She told the meeting that "kids will just listen to teachers". No time for clarification or discussion ,no time for interaction and working together.So it then follows that the proposed Headteacher did not allow questions from the public after she spoke ! There also was no loud applause after the Headteacher spoke and the meeting was certainly not full to overflowing ,as claimed by their recent propaganda leaflet. a strange and odd meeting this was-oh and just to end with -the teachers in free Schools don't have to be qualified to teach! What next - doctors who don't have to study medicine!