Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Tory talk teacher to return to work

Katharine Birbalsingh was told to 'work from home' after comments made at the Conservative Party conference

A teacher who declared the education system is "broken" at the Conservative Party conference will return to work next week.

Katharine Birbalsingh was told to "work from home" on Thursday and Friday while bosses at her school in south London reviewed the situation.

The French and deputy head teacher at St Michael and All Angels Church of England Academy was reportedly "devastated" at being told to stay away.

Speaking at the conference before Education Secretary Michael Gove on Tuesday, Miss Birbalsingh told delegates standards have been "so dumbed down that even the teachers know it" and that schools are bound by too many targets that prevent them from teaching properly.

The system is broken "as it keeps poor children poor", she said.

In a statement, the Diocese of Southwark confirmed the teacher will be allowed to return to the classroom next week, saying: "Her speech at the Conservative Party conference used pictures of children from our school and made reference to them by name. We are concerned by this and in particular by the way in which the pictures have been used.

"Teachers will always have opinions about the ways in which schools should be run. Some teachers may agree with some of the points made by Ms Birbalsingh and some may disagree."

It added: "Our concern is that the position of the Academy should not be misrepresented. Generalisations about teachers and schools can be seen as insulting to many teachers who have worked hard to make a difference to the lives of the young people in their care. We and all schools have high aspirations for our young people whatever their backgrounds.

"Miss Birbalsingh was asked to work at home on Thursday and Friday and will return to work next week."

It is understood that Miss Birbalsingh, an Oxford graduate, asked her headteacher's permission to speak at the conference.

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