Katharine Birbalsingh, chair of Social Mobility Commission

(Update: Birbalsingh resigned as chair of Social Mobility Commission on 6th January 2023)

Social mobility, the opportunity to succeed (financially or otherwise) regardless of inherited or family wealth, requires active assistance by governments.

In UK such assistance is absent and deliberately placed obstacles prevent people from attaining social mobility. 

For people in late teens/early twenties obstacles to social mobility include

  • Prohibitive cost of university education: Initial debt can be as high as £60,000 and the debt rises over time due to extortionate interest rates
  • Lack of financial support for ‘A’ level students
  • Paucity of useful apprenticeships
  • Low paid and insecure entry-level employment for school leavers
  • High rents preventing young people from moving out of parental home for work
  • Vicious regime of benefit-snatching by DWP adding to income insecurity

For people a little older their social mobility is hampered greatly by near impossibility of obtaining a mortgage to buy a house coupled with difficulty in saving money due to high cost of living, particularly cost of rent, and by a succession of employment law changes that made jobs and salaries much less secure.

The Tory government couldn’t care less about social mobility and it is ideologically bound to a philosophy of objecting to helping anyone except their wealthiest friends and business colleagues.  

Eton College, Tories’ centre for social mobility

An oft-used tactic by free-racketeer governments is to pretend to want to do something as a ruse to swallow up genuine attempts by others to achieve it.  Such a government creates a quango or announces a project as a means of distracting supporters of the stated aims of the quango or project and wasting their time and energies so that they are inhibited in actually pursuing the aims. 

An example of the above is Tories’ alleged “levelling up” agenda.  This project occupies space in newspapers and on TV and radio and in debates in House Of Commons and elsewhere.  People who are genuinely committed to addressing disparity in levels of livelihoods or quality of life throughout Britain are unable to proceed without being dragged into spurious discussion of the government’s fictitious “levelling up” agenda.

Part of this agenda is the existence of Tories’ Social Mobility Commission.  It is absurd that the creators of obstacles to social mobility need a commission to explain to them what is needed to improve social mobility.  The commission is another ruse.

A new chair of Social Mobility Commission was announced on Sunday 10th October 2021.  Attributes needed by the Tories for the chair of their ruse included

  • Devout conservatism
  • Ingrained opposition to knowledge
  • Indifference to facts and to veracity
  • Sufficiently unintelligent to be bereft of self-awareness 
  • Haughty disdain for poor people
  • Demonstrable commitment to libertarian extremism
  • Reliable political connections

Katharine Birbalsingh
Tories chose Katharine Birbalsingh, founder (and self-appointed head teacher) of Michaela Community School, Wembley, London, as the new chair.  The school is a “free school” and so operates outside of elected administrative control despite being funded wholly publicly.

Birbalsingh’s public comments (see examples below), including a disgusting speech at 2010 Tory party conference that led to the end of her career as a teacher, and methods used at the school showed repeatedly her unfitness to hold any public position of control, power or decision-making.

Similarities between her and multi-disgraced grifting libertarian Toby Young extend beyond their detachment from reality and their dislike of people.  He was also appointed to a Tory government con quango, Office For Students, although he was removed quickly due to his previous comments on genetics, and he also stuck his destructive nose into education via an administrative position in a chain of “academies.” 

In 2012 Young claimed he encouraged Birbalsingh to start her own “free school.”  He said “I think that she’s an immensely capable person and she should be setting up a free school of her own.  It’s what she’s planning to do.  If I can give her any help I certainly will.  I am a huge fan.” Young in Evening Standard

Nine years later he declared “the appointment of Katharine Birbalsingh as Chair of the Social Mobility Commission is inspired.” Young comment

Professional grifting libertarian Calvin Robinson (GB News, Policy Exchange, British Monarchists Society, The Brexit Party parliamentary candidate, Defund The BBC, Vote Leave) was a governor at Michaela Community School.

After accepting the chair of Social Mobility Commission Birbalsingh admitted that “the new role is only a few days a month!” Birbalsingh comment.  That admission revealed several aspects of the job:

  1. Social Mobility Commission is not a serious endeavour
  2. Birbalsingh has neither the work ethic nor the skills to do the job
  3. Her appointment is a financial reward (at tax-payers’ expense) for her promotion of libertarian philosophy
  4. Her main duties are ill-informed media presentation of alleged Social Mobility Commission intent

Examples of Birbalsingh and Michaela Community School behaviour and remarks
On 10th November 2019 Birbalsingh published a statement, aimed at parents, that asserted “if child says teacher is being racist, back the teacher.  Whatever the child says, back the teacher.  If you don’t, you are letting the child down and allowing them to play you for a fool.  Always back the teacher in front of your child.  That’s my advice to parents.  You can take it or leave it.  Up to you.”

There are several obvious problems with her instruction above.  Racism in any school needs to be dealt with strongly.  To propagate a policy of disbelief in an accusation of racism, as Birbalsingh did, is deeply disturbing.  Her demand that parents shouldn’t believe their children because they “play you like a fool” revealed her mistrust of the pupils at the school and her low opinion of the parents.

On sexual assault Birbalsingh has a similar dismissive attitude.  As part of a response to a survey in Guardian on sexual assault in schools she said “this nonsense doesn’t happen with us.  Our boys would never treat our girls like that.  It just wouldn’t happen.” Guardian 4th April 2021

The day after the Guardian article she at first denied sexual assault could occur at Michaela, before backtracking slightly.

Our kids, boys and girls, cannot and would not do a million things other kids do elsewhere.”
A culture of absolute respect and teachers who are 100% supported.  It can’t happen.  Not at Michaela.  Outside the gates is another matter of course.”
Yes, anything is possible.  We could also have a terrorist attack at school.  But it is highly unlikely.  We had a fight once many years ago.  So yes, it is possible.  But it happens once every seven years.” 

The following day Birbalsingh’s composure dissipated.

Can we all drop this please?  It is such a silly conversation!  Just stop talking about it.  It is absurd, pedantic and silly.  They can think what they like!  Just leave it!”
[This conversation] has gone beyond silly.”

The final word “pedantry” responded to references to her switch from “it can’t happen” to “yes, it is possible.”

Glib denial and panicked attempts at shutdown, on an issue as serious as sexual assault in schools, should be a bright red flag regarding Birbalsingh’s suitability to be working in education.

Michaela’s rules are numerous and precise.  There exists a lunch scam whereby “all pupils attend family lunch daily.  There are no exceptions.  There are no packed lunches at MichaelaNo food or drink is to be brought on to the school site.  The school provides a morning snack for all pupils as well as a two course lunch.” Michaela general information

Parents are charged £2.90 per day for the “family lunch” and “morning snack” which has to be paid in advance in half-termly segments (almost £100 each).  Note that bringing in a packed lunch is not allowed.

If parents do not pay on time then their child is isolated physically from other pupils at lunchtime and fed only a sandwich and a piece of fruit for lunch.  One parent received this letter from the school:

The deadline for this term’s lunch payment was 1st June 2016.  You are currently £75 overdue.  If this full amount is not received within this week your child will be placed into Lunch isolation.  They will receive a sandwich and a piece of fruit only.  Only when the outstanding sum is paid in full will they be allowed to eat lunch with their classmates.”

It is pertinent to remember that the school is not a privately-funded school; its funding comes from the government.  Forcing parents to pay extortionate prices for school lunch while banning packed lunches is a straightforward scam.  Isolating children from their friends at lunchtime is straightforward cruelty.

There is a long paper on the school’s website on Whistle-Blowing Policy and Procedure that describes the processes the school uses to deter whistle-blowing by staff including the threat of disciplinary action if the school decides a complaint is invalid. 

A single sentence in the paper mentions the legal right of employees to use the assistance of a trades’ union.

Michaela Community School does not recognise trade unions.”

Not only is such a stance illegal, it was written in the context of a description of whistle-blowing procedure.  

Inculcation of low-thought nationalism is a dominant feature of the education that Birbalsingh’s school enforces.  It includes forced singing of God Save The Queen, a British Union flag flying permanently and forcing pupils to say “our country” rather than “this country” when talking about the UK.

Michaela teacher Mike Taylor said “we believe that if a pupil doesn’t see themselves as part of this country they will never truly succeed.”  His comment is in the context of the majority of Michaela’s pupils having at least one parent born outside the UK.  When he said “part of this country” he meant in agreement with a specific political perspective of the UK.

In an interview with Express on 13th April 2019 Birbalsingh said

we believe in Queen and country.  We sing God Save The Queen all together in assembly.  The reason for that is we believe in being British.  We believe, whatever colour you are, whatever class you are, we are all British and we’re all one big family.  I know how important it is for our children, especially children in the inner city, to feel like they belong.  Because if they don’t feel British we are all in trouble, they won’t succeed, they’re in trouble, but we are all in trouble because you can’t have a country that succeeds when half the people don’t feel they’re part of the country.” Express

She claimed the reason why “people don’t feel they’re part of the country” is because they are not blindly nationalistic enough rather than due to systemic division driven by government policy or due to financial management by the government that seeks to enhance wealth concentration.  “Whatever colour you are, whatever class you are, we are all British and we’re all one big family” is a statement that is entirely at odds with the ideology of the current Tory government. 

Birbalsingh knows her views are false and counter to reality.  She knows she is a liar.  She doesn’t want to change people’s outcomes; instead, she wants them to delude themselves with indoctrinated nationalistic garbage.

What permeates most from her words above is fear.  Staunch conservative Birbalsingh fears for the future of embedded multi-layered establishment control of Britain.  She fears that young people will see through the fog of parliament and media and observe the rottenness of how this country is managed, controlled and subjugated.  She fears that the sham democracy will be exposed, rejected and erased.

Michaela’s approach to teaching is to treat all children exactly the same regardless of their personal backgrounds or lives.  That is not equality.  Her expressed philosophy, elucidated (if that’s not too complimentary a word) in a blog for Conservative Education Society published on 4th March 2016 called Why conservative values are needed in our schools now more than ever, is a very stupid concept of education that, ultimately, favours survival of the fittest and sod everyone else.

Conservatives accept the necessity of inequality because they recognise people have different levels of talent and, most importantly, some people make more effort than others” was a mis-statement of “inequality.”  Inequality in UK is due to lack of social mobility not a lack of effort or lack of talent.  Everything about her philosophy is opposite to a desire to improve social mobility.

The blog was punctuated with assertive repetitions of unquestioned obedience.

I believe in duty and obligation.”
At Michaela, we believe in authority and in tradition.”
We expect obedience from the children.”
We believe in an objective right and wrong.”
Hierarchies are necessary for order.”
We are losing our country to a vampire squid of liberal values.”

Again, her fear shone.

(Five and half years later the Vice-President of Conservative Education Society John Bald welcomed Birbalsingh’s appointment as chair of Social Mobility Commission in Birbalsingh is the ideal choice to champion social mobility where he blamed graduates for their lack of good jobs and complained that Labour’s only comment on social mobility was to complain about “austerity.”  Bald understands why Tories appointed Birbalsingh.)

In an interview for Spiked! she made strange comments about Black Lives Matter

We are all British, whatever colour we are.  That is something that Black Lives Matter undermines, and it saddens me greatly.  Black Lives Matter has now got to the point where it will exacerbate racism in this country.”

Both opinions on Black Lives Matter above are ridiculous.  Black Lives Matter is a socialist organisation; that is why a conservative disapproves.

Birbalsingh delivered a prejudiced opinion of parents of her school’s pupils.

You will find some families who do not want to send their children into school in normal times [not just due to Covid].  They want them at home to look after the grandparents or their younger siblings.”

In a separate interview for BBC Sounds (listen from 13.22), broadcast on 19th May 2020, when asked about “BAME parents” she said

Your listeners won’t necessarily know the communities that we work with.  They [the communities] are not as informed and they might not listen to the news.  So, they don’t really know of the dangers that a more middle-class environment might [know].”

The interviewer, perhaps perturbed by blatant racist stereotypes, interrupted to say that “some of your parents might be highly informed” to which Birbalsingh responded with a couple of “I don’t knows” in the middle of several “ers” and some nervous laughter.

To be fair, her targetted disdain is shared between ethnicity and class.

Henry Jackson Society (HJS) is an unashamed purveyor of modern imperialism, a cheerleader for worldwide libertarian capitalist exploitation backed by military force.  Birbalsingh took part in a discussion hosted by HJS on 21st January 2021 entitled ‘Towards an Improved School System in England: Facing the Challenges of Inequality and Woke Culture.’ (Link to transcript: HJS talk)

Therein, answering her own question “what is the purpose of school?” she created two opposing philosophies in teaching: Her’s and “progressives’.”  The latter, she said,

think that schools should be making children into revolutionaries, and you will hear progressives, as I like to call them, wanting schools to teach children how to question everything and how to be creative.  The progressives have an idea in their head that there is an establishment which is evil.  And what we need to do is inspire children and get them to kind of fight the power as it were.”

Teachers are overwhelmingly on the left and then they some of them have certain ideas that are are perhaps not just on the left but more extreme left.”

Sadly, state schools are not full of Che Guevaras, Rosa Luxemburgs and James Connollys teaching the theory and practice of revolutionary communism.  Birbalsingh’s bizarre analysis was drawn from the same pool of imagination frequented by Steve Bannon, Lauren Boebert and Donald Trump jr.

She continued with an almost incoherent account of Black Lives Matter (in USA) where she claimed they objected to “being nice or kind” in political campaigning and said Black Lives Matter’s position was

we’re (BLM) inspiring them to go and overthrow the rich white man.  Or if you’re teaching them to be kind to be nice, well, then you’re sort of teaching them to just do what the white man says.”

She referred to Critical Race Theory and asked

what is the purpose of school?  Is it to turn them into revolutionaries?  Or is it to teach them to read and write?”

That binary choice doesn’t exist.  Reading and being a good writer are very useful skills for a revolutionary.  

Birbalsingh’s arguments in the HJS discussion were utterly laughable but she is a head teacher and the government has given her a chairing role at Social Mobility Commission.  Laughable yes, but it is no joke.

She conlcuded with an assertion that

we [Michaela Community School] think the way to end racism is to teach children [pupils at Michaela] to work hard and be kind.” 

That is, Birbalsingh thinks people of colour can “end racism” by being kind.  That belief is almost a justification for racism.  What did Birbalsingh imply results from a lack of kindness?

In a paper for HSJ – Black Lives Matter UK: An Anthology – she praised herself for instilling “[national] belonging” in her pupils leading to “empowerment” and “pride” and compared it to “socially devisive” Black Lives Matter methodology.

At Michaela Community School where I am headmistress, we sing ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Jerusalem’, and we regularly celebrate being British.  It means that our children are resilient, ambitious, and feel a strong sense of national belonging.  When our children walk past museums, memorials, cathedrals, and castles, they feel empowered because they know something about them, and feel they are theirs to take pride in.”

We must not succumb to the socially divisive demands of hard-Left movements such as BLM UK – especially when it comes to the education provided for our children in Britain.”

Once again, she spoke of her fear of children learning something that might challenge the exploitative status quo that conservatives love. 

It is interesting to learn about the history of the British monarchy, the history of castles, the history of Britain as a global power, as it used to be, but it is without sense to use that history as a tool to focus “belonging” on intangible and useless entities.  Instead of knowledge Birbalsingh wants pride in ephemeral trinkets.  

Tory intent
The common tactic of national pride is a tired old desperate conservative tactic borne of absence of substance in justification for their ideology.  The expression of national pride in anthems, royalty, castles, statues and historical figures shows how empty the tactic is.  It is an attack on intelligence, on the concept of acquiring knowledge and on the benefits of analytical thinking.

There are many conservatives outside of government who know a lucrative career can be enjoyed by being a willing conduit for promoting suffocation of knowledge and of inspection.  Newspapers are packed with suffocating columnists, radio stations (like talkRadio) and TV channels (like GB News) were created to be platforms for the enemies of intelligence and learning, and think-tanks devote their energies to endless assaults on reality.

Birbalsingh will do what Tories want and in the style they want.  Social mobility will remain elusive.

Recommended reading
David Buckingham on the ‘Michaela Way’
Dr. Russ Jackson on Birbalsingh
Solomon Hughes on Social Mobility Commission

Related blogs
Levelling up? Boris Johnson stamping down in favour of more exploitation
Oliver Dowden, culture war and selective history
Robert Jenrick, planning permission and statues


Katharine Birbalsingh, chair of Social Mobility Commission

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