Katharine Birbalsingh was featured in the Review section of the Sunday Times last week and her story was one which really shook me. Her experiences as a teacher at a number of state schools in England exposed a culture of political correctness and a refusal to brand inadequate performance by pupils as failure.
As Bill Gates said in his ’11 Lessons for Life’ speech to a group of American high school students:
Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
The following speech was given by Birbalsingh at the Conservative Party Conference last October. Less than a week later, she was fired and is now fighting a case for unfair dismissal which I sincerely hope she wins.
Social mobility figures in Britain are an absolute disgrace. They make me cringe with embarrassment on behalf of a country which has achieved so much over centuries and now cannot seem to solve a problem which is seriously hampering the potential of its greatest resource – its youth. Clearly the system is failing. The grammar schools of ages past produced a generation of upwardly mobile ‘sharp-elbowed’ middle classes. This trend has now slumped and it seems Britain is back to its old ways: if you didn’t go to private school, if your parents weren’t wealthy already, if you weren’t surrounded from a young age by a group of rich, educated, posh success stories, then you’re just not welcome to play the game of life at the top.