Katharine Birbalsingh says parents ALWAYS need to teach kids at home

Katharine Birbalsingh says parents ALWAYS need to teach kids at home

01/10/2022

Now ‘Tiger head’ piles the pressure on parents: Social mobility tsar Katharine Birbalsingh who said teachers aren’t to be trusted with children’s education says ALL mums and dads should teach at home even if the school is ‘perfect’

  • Headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh is known for her tough stance on discipline 
  • Said parents shouldn’t assume their children are being taught well in UK schools
  • Explained today parents need to ‘shift their mindset’ to always teach their kids
  • Said ‘main concern’ is parents who ‘don’t know what their child is accessing’ 

‘Tiger head’ Katharine Birbalsingh has doubled down on parents, saying they should do additional lessons with their children at home even if they’re getting a ‘perfect’ eduction – but warned many have no idea what their kids are learning at school. 

Ms Birbalsingh, 49, chairwoman of the Government’s Social Mobility Commission and successful headteacher of an inner London secondary school, faced a backlash last week after telling parents not to trust teachers to properly educate their children 

The headteacher, who founded the notoriously strict Michaela Community School in Wembley, set herself on a collision course with colleagues and unions by telling mothers and fathers they can’t trust schools to properly educate their child because they will be ‘lucky’ to get a brilliant teacher.

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning today following an online backlash, she seemed to backtrack slightly and put the onus on the parents, explaining that they need to ‘shift their mindset’ and create additional learning opportunities. 

However Ms Birbalsingh said her ‘main concern’ is parents who ‘don’t really know what their child is accessing’ at school, and that parents should never assume a school is doing enough for their child.  

Headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh said on ITV this morning parents should always be teaching their kids at home, despite having the ‘perfect’ eduction – but warned many have no idea what their kids are learning at school

Ms Birbalsingh, 49, is chairwoman of the Government’s Social Mobility Commission and successful headteacher of an inner London secondary school 

‘My main concern is simply that sometimes parents tick the box and think “I’ve sent my child off to school” and they don’t really know what their child is accessing,’ she said. 

‘Sometimes the child will access some really excellent teaching, other times the teacher may be absent or tired. The [Covid] situation at the moment – it might be a deputy head in a gym with 120 students, and proper teaching isn’t taking place. 

‘Even if everything were perfect, parents need to realise going to museums, reading with your child, counting the peas on the plate, asking about tests – sometimes parents don’t feel very confident in doing that, but I’m telling you, you can learn stuff with your child. Have them teach you. 

‘Make the conversation about learning, that’s so important because children want to copy their parents, they want to get their respect. If they see you on your phone all the time, they will go on their phone.’ 

She ruffled feathers last week after her telling her Twitter followers that because of the pandemic there ‘has never been a better time to teach your children at home’ 

She added: ‘It’s about always having that hat on of “I’m developing my child and helping to support my child with their learning”. 

When asked whether parents of students at her own school could assume they were being taught well, she replied by insisting she hopes no parent will blindly assume their children’s education is of a high quality.

‘I want parents to always assume you have to do lots at home, she said. ‘If everything is going really well, then brilliant – you’re lucky. When I say you’re lucky, I don’t mean it’s exceptional, I mean you’re getting a free, great education. 

‘But the fact is teachers aren’t in sometimes, they’re tired, there is a whole variety of things teachers are training, there are teachers who are brand new, it takes years to become an excellent teacher.’ 

Ms Birbalsingh said she doesn’t want to ‘guilt’ any parents who do rely solely on the education system because they may be raising a child alone or work multiple jobs to pay the bills.

The headteacher founded the notoriously strict Michaela Community School in Wembley, north London and appeared on ITV to defend her comments after an online backlash 

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning today following an online backlash, she explained that parents need to ‘shift their mindset’ to always try and teach their kids more at home – even if they have the ‘perfect’ education

She explained she wants parents  to embrace education as a way of bonding with their children, including teaching things they enjoy like cooking or football rather than literacy and maths. 

‘It’s not about guilt’, she said. ‘It’s about addressing the idea of fun versus education, education is fun. If you use that as a time for bonding then you can get to know each other, learn stuff together. 

‘You sit down and watch television and talk abut the characters and how they’re developing, talking about the ending – that is learning. 

‘If you’re a great cook, you teach them how to cook, if you’re great at football, teach them football. There is a sense of you trying imparting knowledge all the time’ 

She added: ‘It doesn’t take more time its a shift in mindset, instead of thinking that’s all for school.’ 

Last week, the educator caused a stir by taking to Twitter to share her guidance for parents. 

She wrote: ‘Parents! Don’t assume they are being taught well at school. You might get lucky. Great! But don’t assume it. Teach them after school. Daily. Always. Other parents do. They just aren’t telling you.

‘Schools, even the BEST schools, can only do so much Parents can do 1-1 instruction and can revisit before bedtime or provide different ‘instructors’ for the same thing. The power of the family is HUGE. Yet all we do is say, ‘schools should teach that!’,’ she added.

Despite her comments infuriating teachers, many parents tweeted their support, saying they ‘agree 100%’ with her views and advice. Some educators also admitted they agreed.

The straight-talking headteacher was made chairwoman of the Government’s Social Mobility Commission in October after repeatedly using her platform as Britain’s most high profile school leader to attack ‘woke culture’ damaging Britain and its education system. She won a CBE in 2020.

She has also talked repeatedly about the importance of family in education, and the need for traditional values such as eating with your children each night. And the super headteacher has said schools have been crippled by league tables, exams were dumbed down and that ‘well meaning liberal’ teachers refused to discipline black children for fear of being called racist.

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