Friday, October 08, 2010

His Grace Is Not Amused

A south London school has suspended its deputy head teacher. Her crime? Making a speech at the Conservative Party Conference...

His Grace has the story, and he's not happy. At all.

And may I just say how nice it is for His Grace to return from dead, like a phoenix from the flames, once more. He was sorely missed.

UPDATE: Dizzy has an interesting twist on the story. The head teacher was the one who allowed Blair to use her school to launch his 2001 election campaign! Quentin Letts's new book "Letts Rip!" includes an account of the day Bishop allowed her south London school to be used by Tony Blair for the launch of the 2001 general eleciton campaign. It notes that "Mrs Bishop is a fanatical Blairite who considers him the most wonderful Prime Minister in the world".
The piece describes how Blair used Bishop's school remorselessly for political ends. For Birbalsingh now to be accused of political agitation is unbelievably hypocritical.


Cynic said...

They haven't heard of the Human Rights Act or Magna Carta ...freedom of speech and all that.

Of course this is the state sector so they probably haven't.

They also appear to have had the irony chip removed or they would have realised that what they have done just reinforces her point

Lady Finchley said...

I thought the teacher was amazing - and very brave. However, she would have been obliged to clear her appearance at Conference with her school. If she did not do this then she is unfortunately in a week position but if she did and they are still kicking up they can go to hell.

Hackwood Hexham said...

Why would it be necessary to clear an appearance such as this with the school? It is obvious for all sorts of reasons that this is well out of order,and makes it so easy to silence such incisive analysis. Lets hope this gives rise to a storm and is followed through in such a way as to expose Katherine's manager for the fool that she is.

Manfarang said...

Well in the good old bad days......

Tapestry said...

Free speech. Free speech. Free speech. Free speech. KGB. Gestapo. FSB. Stazi. New Labour.

JuliaM said...

I think this headmistress is going to bitterly regret having allowed this to become a cause célèbre....

Victor, NW Kent said...

I am indebted to the BBC, 2001

"Party politics and schools do not mix well", says the head teacher propelled into the political limelight on the first day of the general election campaign.

Irene Bishop says she is deeply unimpressed by the "pantomime" that has followed the announcement of the general election by the prime minister on a visit to her south London secondary school.

Schools should be apolitical. Of course they depend on politicians for funding, but they shouldn't be seen to be in favour of any particular party.

Irene Bishop, head teacher
While the school, St Saviour's and St Olave's enjoyed "an historic occasion", she said that she has been less pleased by the subsequent attempts to use her as a political pundit.


wild said...

Education (in its true meaning) is precisely what Leftists are against. To seek to know truths (rather than lies), or acquire empowering skills (rather than approved jargon) subvert the power of the Leftist establishment.

To understand the Left just go to extreme Leftist State's such as North Korea. The "people" are kept in a state of complete ignorance and dependence.

A Leftist who believes in education is a contradiction in terms.

Lady Finchley said...

As an employee, particularly a public service employee, you are pretty much obliged to clear any public appearance - you could be doing something that might be construed in bringing your employer into disrepute. I am of course not saying that is what she did. She was brilliant.

Wrinkled Weasel said...


Had Katharine appeared at an Eco conference, speaking in favour of flogging for anthropogenic climate change deniers, she would have been awarded the school prize for saving the earth.

Overtiredandemotional said...

It is hard to imagine private sector sphere in which such summary action would not invite a crippling constructive dismissal claim. Of course, the louts who have done this will not pay the bill themselves.

I think it was Article 58 of the old Soviet penal code which wouold have been used to send this woman to the Gulag for 10 years, or more. How her persecutors must wish they had such weapons to hand.

Ian said...

Bearing in mind, she was sharing a Platform with the Secretary of State (and her speech was as excellent as her blog) surely Michael Gove should intervene and make sure that Nulab supporting Dr.Bishop is told she is out of order and indeed Dr.Vishop's actions must question her ability as a Headteacher

Indy said...

Headteachers may not be in politically restricted posts but they should not be getting involved in frontline politics.

She was wrong to allow Tony Blair to use her school for political purposes. Making a speech at Tory party conference was equally wrong.

Sean Haffey said...

Anyone able to give a pointer to a web page where what she said is shown in full, or possibly a YouTube recording or similar?

Sean Haffey said...

I just stopped by the BBC News website to find out more and couldn't find this story. Well, not on the main page.

OK, I thought. It will be under Politics.


Silly me. I should look under Education.

Wrong again.


What if I just type "Birbalsingh" into the Search field.


This is clearly not news. My mistake.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Miss Birbalsingh was a departmental head at the time of Blair's visit, at a different school, and consequently took no part in the final decision to allow his piece of blatant political grand-standing.

Sean Haffey said...

I'd be interested to see the response if Miss Birbalsingh became, say, Michael Gove's SPAD.

Kay said...

Giving a speech at a party conference about your experiences is not frontline politics.

She's not canvassing for votes, or running for election merely discussing policy.

There were many other headteachers there. It is not surrpised that it is in Labour's safest constituency (in London if not the country, represented by none other than Harriet Harman) that this teacher got sacked. What does that tell you?

Jimmy said...

So let's get this straight. She thinks her colleagues should be sacked and that the she's not allowed to discipline the black kids. She decides that the best way to address these concerns is a public speech at a political fringe meeting. Can't see anything wrong with that. Obviously she's being picked on for being a tory.

btw what was she doing in Birmingham this week anyway? Are the schools not back?

neil craig said...

Well what are our schools for if not political indoctrination.

After all are schools not among the funding "partners" of 10:10 the eco-fascist child snuff movie makers whose lesson is that children should be killed if they think for themselves? And is David Cameron not another open backer, both personally & with our money, funded through innumerable quangos & government fakecharities?

If the Tory Prime Minister believes schools should be for anti-capitalist political indoctrination who can deny the right of any head to follow suit.

Libertarian said...


Dear oh dear wee little Jimmy where have you been living for the last 13 years. This is now the NuLab way. Spin, smear, launching parliamentary business in the press and on TV BEFORE it comes before parliament etc etc etc.

You party political types are just so brain dead and boring

Adrian said...

Facebook page to show we want her free to speak out.
"Katharine Birbalsingh - save this teacher from revenge"
Link at

Glyn H said...

What do you expect in these days?

Our country, both within the EU and under New Labour in particular has become all but a police state.

The Police themselves are grossly overpaid, trigger happy, politically correct and thus partisan against the law abiding and prone to ‘old Spanish practices’ that the Prison Officers have taught them.

The state education system as devised by the Labour party is a joke throughout the Western world. A hotbed of Marxist thought and Union activity these 40 or 50 years, membership of the Conservative party would stop ones career in a moment. Before the comprehensive system was imposed education to ‘O’ level was above a 2.1 degree today (And I speak as one with the former, with two children possessing the latter, and that after their private education from nursery to their ‘A’ levels.)

Gove is at this moment in a fight to the death with the educational establishment – and looks to be losing.

The Eco fanatics have bent the environmental agenda with appallingly cherry picked data (See The Hockey Stick illusion by A. W. Montford if you want McIntyre and McKitrick’s spectacular demolition of Mann et al fully justified and supported) but this twaddle has not only been given its own department by Brown (formally headed by Red Ed – Green being the new Red) but Dave has been taken in by it as well; perhaps in the name of getting elected but its stonking misjudgements will become clear sooner rather than later – one can but hope.

So why are we surprised by these events when a teacher says the Emperor as no clothes and her Headmistress is the one who allowed a Blair major spin event at her school – which should never have been used for such a purpose by any party. Which both Headmistress and Politician would have realised had they been proper people for their respective Offices.

Jimmy said...

So apparently she used names and pics of the kids too. Not at all inappropriate.

I wouldn't get too upset on her behalf. She'll be fine. Let's face it, we're looking at the first headmistress of St. Toby's aren't we? She'll never have to listen to a steel drum again.

Span Ows said...

Sean Haffey, just did the search myself...still no results (9:45pm in the UK) but I did learn that a poor conker crop is threatening a conker competition.

Kiera Hardie said...

I've just seen the video of her speech.

She named and put up pictures of children at the school on a big screen at a conference which was being televised. She didn't say if she had their permission, or the permission of their parents, or - if the children were photographed at school - the school's permission.

A huge error of judgement.

I think what she has to say is very interesting and worth discussing. But she didn't need to use the images or to identify children, especially when she was, to be honest, making them look foolish. You don't expect your teacher to do something like that and I think that it was a gross betrayal for her to do that to advance her own profile and career.

The school would be right to suspend her while they checked whether the necessary consents had been obtained.

And if the investigation shows that she exposed these children to ridicule without permission - well that really is something that would justify dismissal.

Pam said...

I thought you disapproved of council employees taking part in political events during working hours Iain!

wild said...

"if the investigation shows that she exposed these children to ridicule without permission...that really is something that would justify dismissal."

I agree with you that she should not have shown photographs of her pupils, but to suggest that this requires an "investigation" merely illustrates the way in which Leftists such as yourself crave power so that you can abuse it.

What you see is all there is to "investigate", and if you watch her speech and conclude that she is not on the side of the children you really are one sad individual.

What is truly shameful is what Leftists, such as yourself, have done to education in this country, and it utterly predictable that you should excite yourself with the possibility of silencing anybody who draws attention to its manifest failures.