Schools can learn from strict head’s return to basics, says Stephen Pollard 

THE word hero is bandied about far too easily. But someone of whom you’ve probably never heard who is a true hero is Katharine Birbalsingh.

Michaela school

Ms Katharine Birbalsingh is the founding head teacher of south London’s Michaela community school (Image: Michaela Community School)

Ms Birbalsingh is the founding head teacher of Michaela community school which was set up, after many battles and amid much opposition, in a converted office block close to London’s Wembley stadium in September 2014. Michaela and its founder are controversial because its ethos is based on traditional education methods: strict discipline, pedagogical teaching where a teacher imparts knowledge to children and learning by rote. To the education establishment these are all something close to evil. From the moment Ms Birbalsingh first emerged as a public figure, she has been attacked for her views, often viciously. When she began the process of setting up Michaela, the education establishment did all it could to stop her.

 

On Thursday the school received its first set of GCSE results. To describe them as stellar barely comes close.

Over half (54 percent) of all grades were level 7 or above (the old-style A and A*). That is more than twice as good as the national average of 22 percent.

Nearly one in five (18 percent) of all grades was a 9, compared with 4.5 percent nationally. In maths, one in four results was a level 9.

As Ms Birbalsingh tweeted: “Michaela pupils SMASH it.” Now those results would be brilliant for a selective grammar school. They put Michaela among the best schools in the country.

But Michaela is not selective. It has achieved such incredible GCSEs as a local inner city community school whose pupils are mainly from challenging and deprived backgrounds.

Michaela Community School

Over half of GCSE grades at the school were Level 7 or above (Image: Michaela community school)

There is not a single white, middle-class child in the school. But the lessons from its pupils’ achievements are far wider than just for Michaela.

The fundamental lesson is that being an inner city school with children from deprived back- grounds is never a reason for failure.

As Michaela shows, with the right school environment, every child should be expected to achieve their potential.

In 2010, as deputy head of a school in south London, Ms Birbalsingh spoke at the Conservative Party conference.

She attacked attitudes to discipline as being far too lax: “In schools and in society, we need high expectations, of everyone, even if you’re black or live on a council estate.

Katharine Birbalsingh: It is important to believe in British values

“Why can’t they sit exams at the end of the year? We need to rid the classrooms of chaos by unshackling heads and setting our schools free.”

There was, she said, a “culture of excuses, of low standards”. The system was “broken because it keeps poor children poor”.

As a result of voicing such controversial thoughts – controversial, that is, among educationalists – she lost her job and was the subject of vitri- olic abuse from fellow teachers.

She was told she would never and should never be allowed to work in the state sector again.

But she had a rare mix of vision and determination and, instead of cowering, set about starting a new school under the free schools scheme launched by Michael Gove.

Katharine Birbalsingh

Katharine voiced opinions that the broken education system “keeps poor children poor” (Image: Steven Scott Taylor/Universal News And Sport)

History will laud Mr Gove as one of the greatest of all education secretaries. For decades schools have been in the grip of an ideology that places equality over excellence and where pupils’ supposed self-expression is valued above self-discipline – let alone discipline imposed by authority.

The tougher GCSEs at which Michaela pupils have excelled have been one mechanism through which Mr Gove sought to change this.

Another is the creation of free schools, which allowed the likes of Ms Birbalsingh to offer parents an alternative.

Opponents have attacked Michaela’s methods, such as handing out demerits or detention to pupils who forget to bring in a pencil or pen or for talking in corridors between lessons, and for learning poems and multiplication tables by rote.

Katharine Birbalsingh on Good Morning Britain

Katharine on Good Morning Britain (Image: REX/ Shutterstock)

It has a “no excuses” policy. Arrive even a minute late and you will get a detention.

The discipline – and everything else the school does – is designed to instil a belief in personal responsibility, respect for authority and a sense of duty towards others. And it works.

In its Ofsted inspection two years ago, Michaela was judged outstanding in every category. The last laugh is truly with Ms Birbalsingh – or rather, her pupils.

As maths teacher Thomas Kendall said: “I’m so proud to be a Michaela teacher today. It feels like winning the league. The kids deserve it so much for all their hard work.”

 

 

 

Source: Schools can learn from strict head’s return to basics, says STEPHEN POLLARD | Express Comment | Comment | Express.co.uk

Charles Stanley – Principle or Preference?

 

Daniel 1

Imagine driving down a gravel road on a dark, rainy night. Even the light from your headlights seems to be swallowed by the blackness as you struggle to avoid veering off the road. Now consider what a difference it would make if there were yellow lines down the middle and white ones along the sides. You’d know exactly where on the road you’re supposed to be.

These two scenarios represent the difference between a life based on preferences and one guided by scriptural principles. Preferences fluctuate with the circumstances. When this is the basis for our decision making, the result is confusion, stress, and possibly danger as we wander through life. In contrast, principles are God’s unchanging truths, which keep us on the path of His will and protect us from spiritual danger and deception.

Daniel is an example of a young man who lived by principles. When he realized there was a line he couldn’t cross without disobeying the Lord, he stood fast and trusted God instead of conforming to the pagan world around him. Daniel chose not to eat food that had been sacrificed to Babylonian idols, and he left the consequences of his obedience to the Lord.

There are two main reasons we sometimes rely on preference-based decision making: Either we want to fit in, or we want to avoid the negative consequences that could come as a result of obeying the Lord. Yet to go this route will leave us in darkness, swerving dangerously through life. Safety and security can be found only in obedience to God’s principles, which are like bright white lines on the road keeping us in the center of His will.

Bible in One Year: Lamentations 3-5

 

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Our Daily Bread — Another Chance

 

Bible in a Year :Psalm 119:89–176; 1 Corinthians 8

Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Micah 7:19 nlt

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Micah 7:1–3, 18–20

At the Second Chance Bike Shop near our neighborhood, volunteers rebuild cast-off bicycles and donate them to needy kids. Shop founder Ernie Clark also donates bikes to needy adults, including the homeless, the disabled, and military veterans struggling to make it in civilian life. Not only do the bicycles get a second chance but sometimes the recipients get a new start too. One veteran used his new bike to get to a job interview.

Second chances can transform a person’s life, especially when the second chance comes from God. The prophet Micah extoled such grace during a time the nation of Israel groveled in bribery, fraud, and other despicable sins. As Micah lamented, “The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth” (Micah 7:2 nlt).

God would rightly punish evil, Micah knew. But being loving, He would give those who repented another chance. Humbled by such love, Micah asked, “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people?” (v. 18 nlt).

We too can rejoice that God doesn’t abandon us because of our sins if we ask for forgiveness. As Micah declared of God, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (v. 19 nlt). God’s love gives second chances to all who seek Him.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What sin will you repent of and gain a second chance from our loving God?

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the grace of second chances.

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God of Possibility

“Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing.”(1) So begins Nicholas Carr’s well-circulated 2008 essay, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” His Atlantic article describes the shifting of his own thought patterns; how he once could delve easily into long bouts of prose, but now finds his mind trailing off after skimming only a few pages. As a writer he is the first to applaud the instant wonders of Google searches, information-trails, and hyperlinks ad infinitum. He just wonders aloud about the cost.

University of Virginia English professor Mark Edmundson is another voice attempting to articulate the current cultural ecosystem, and the minds, souls, and relationships it cultivates. In an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education he attempts to describe the turbo-charged orientation of his students to life around them. “They want to study, travel, make friends, make more friends, read everything (superfast), take in all the movies, listen to every hot band, keep up with everyone they’ve ever known… They live to multiply possibilities. They’re enemies of closure… [They] want to take eight classes a term, major promiscuously, have a semester abroad at three different colleges, [and] connect with every likely person who has a page on Facebook.”(2) Edmundson argues that for all the virtues of a generation that lives the possibilities of life so fully, there are detriments to the mind that perpetually seeks more and other options. For many, the moment of maximum pleasure is no longer “the moment of closure, where you sealed the deal,” but rather, “the moment when the choices had been multiplied to the highest sum…the moment of maximum promise.”

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – God of Possibility

Joyce Meyer – Healthy Roots Develop Fruit

 

May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love. — Ephesians 3:17 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

When you become a student of God’s Word, you begin to desire a change in your behavior. But so often, as soon as you deal with one bad behavior, another immediately pops up to replace it. Why? Because bad fruit comes from a bad root.

For example, as long as we feel bad about ourselves, we will produce bad fruit of some kind. It might be anger, insecurity, fear, or indecision. But it will show up in our behavior. We must deal with the root of the problem. No matter how good things look outwardly, if they are not right on the inside, sooner or later it will be revealed on the outside.

Your worth and value are not based on outward things; they are based on God’s love for you. Receive His love, learn to love and value yourself, and you will begin to produce better fruit in your life.

Prayer Starter: Father, please help me to have a greater understanding of Your love. Help me to see myself the way You see me and receive my worth and value from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Anyone Who Calls 

 

“Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

I have been privileged to counsel personally thousands of people – men, women, young people, children – about their spiritual needs. The experiences that remain uppermost in my heart and mind have a direct bearing on this verse.

Helping people to see their truly desperate plight outside of saving faith in Jesus Christ is sometimes difficult, but what a reward awaits those who become aware of their condition. No matter what their background – criminal, alcoholic, self-righteous, or whatever – uninformed people need to recognize the fact that they are lost without Christ.

Accomplishing that purpose is a long step toward their genuine conversion, for I have heard many thousands come to the place where they do indeed “call upon the name of the Lord” and they are saved.

If you can help your loved one, neighbor or friend – or even a total stranger – to become sufficiently alarmed about their eternal welfare that they call on the name of the Lord, you have come a long way toward bringing that person to Christ in a saving relationship.

Some people are bothered by the simplicity of the gospel. I am grateful that it is so simple that anyone can understand, believe, and receive. The promise of this verse is emphatic: “Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Let’s believe and share it.

Bible Reading: Romans 10:14-17

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will not let the utter simplicity of the gospel keep me from sharing the Good News that we need only call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – The Great Gospel of God

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

No one knows me, we think.  People know my name, but not my heart.  They know my face but not my feelings.  I have a social security number, but not a soul mate.  No one really knows me.

The response of heaven is that God does!  Prophets weren’t enough.  Apostles wouldn’t do and angels won’t suffice.  God sent more than miracles and messages.  He sent himself; he sent his Son. In God’s great gospel, he not only sends, he becomes. He lives with us… as one of us.  He knows our hurt.  He knows our hunger.  He knows betrayal.  Most of all, he knows our sins.  He knows them better than you do.  He knows their price because he paid it.  “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).  God knows you!

Read more Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

 

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Denison Forum – High school renovated to protect against mass shootings: The safest way to a joyful future

 

Here’s a sign of the times: a high school in western Michigan has been renovated to protect against a mass shooting.

The design takes a cue from World War I trenches that were dug in zigzag patterns so the enemy could not shoot in a straight line down the trench. In a similar fashion, the Michigan school added curved hallways to reduce a gunman’s range, barriers to provide cover and egress, and classrooms that can lock on demand and hide students in the corner, out of a killer’s sight.

In related news, a school district in Colorado has provided buckets and cat litter for teachers to have on hand in case children need to relieve themselves during a prolonged active-shooter lockdown. The district has also supplied sharpies for writing the time tourniquets were applied.

“The greatest catastrophe since the dawn of civilization”

It is obviously important to do what we can to minimize tragedies before they strike. But there’s only so much we can do to prepare for the unpredictable.

Nature is a regular threat. For instance, lightning struck a tree at the Tour Championship in Atlanta Saturday. The tree exploded, injuring six spectators with debris.

The New York Times reports that an eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would produce a toxic ash cloud that would reach both coasts. It would destroy crops, ruin power lines and electrical transformers, block sunlight, plunge global temperatures, and cause farming to collapse. In short, according to a group of researchers, such an eruption would be “the greatest catastrophe since the dawn of civilization.”

An asteroid missed our planet last week but was undetected by astronomers until it passed us. A study shows that shark attacks in major metropolitan areas have doubled in the last twenty years. And Brazilian troops have been enlisted to fight unprecedented wildfires in the Amazon.

Teenager exposes hundreds to measles at Disneyland

Diseases make the news regularly as well.

Continue reading Denison Forum – High school renovated to protect against mass shootings: The safest way to a joyful future