The deputy head teacher behind the recent critical disclosure on the current educational system at the Conservative party conference has been sacked by St Michael and All Angels academy. This presents a number of issues to confound and confuse. If education instils competence in debate and free speech, how do we convince children in school that should this franchise be exercised you could face dismissal.
This educational conundrum may hold some hidden disciplinary issues but to the outside world is appears that the whistle blower has been silenced. An extraordinary situation where the example set to children in school implies we operate a dictatorial educational environment. Free speech is at the heart of our democracy. Surely when Katherine Birbalsingh “spilt the beans” at the highest debating level; a party political conference, she should be granted sanctuary.
The reaction by the school points to swift retribution rather than healthy debate. Undoubtedly the revelations that out state schools were “utterly chaotic” is based on home truths we may not wish to consider. But this should not be a shock. The overwhelming criticism of our educational prowess has long been at the forefront in the press and needs to be addressed. There are some deep seated ills that can only be addressed by fundamental change. Despite massive investments in education our national performance is lamentable. If money is not the option, we need to open all eyes and ears and listen to the views of others – especially teachers. Whether Miss Birbalsingh’s viewpoint was right or wrong she at least had the courage to speak up. The consequence of her retribution could cause countless others to keep quiet. And the opportunity to address the many issues in our schooling standards, sadly lost.
The UK has to consider its long term strategic plans for education. We are at the cross roads where industry and commerce are evolving faster than we can cope with. If we are to prepare children to tackle global markets with reducing boundaries we must update our educational aims and objectives. The last thing we need is a system that stifles free speech and constructive criticism from the teachers we rely upon to achieve the changes in schooling we desperately need.