Liz Truss says Whitehall and business should ditch quotas

Liz Truss says Whitehall and business should ditch quotas

10/10/2021

Liz Truss says Whitehall and business should ditch quotas and concentrate on ‘equality of opportunity’ instead to help poorer people as she hires Britain’s toughest head teacher to become new social mobility tsar

  • Liz Truss is aiming to ‘refocus the Government’s social mobility work’
  • She tasked Katharine Birbalsingh with tackling ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’
  • Ms Truss believes there is too much emphasis on ‘targets and quotas’ which ‘artificially fix an outcome’, a source close to the minister said

Targets and quotas have been relied upon too much to help people from poorer backgrounds instead of promoting ‘equality of opportunity’, Liz Truss says.  

Foreign Secretary and equalities minister Ms Truss is aiming to ‘refocus the Government’s social mobility work’ on tackling the gaps in ‘education, employment and enterprise’ between the South East of England and rest of the UK.

She has now tasked the conservative headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh, who leads the Michaela Community School in north London, with tackling the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’, The Telegraph reports. 

Ms Birbalsingh, 48, has been asked to take over the Social Mobility Commission – which is in charge of ‘levelling up opportunity’ – and address issues of ‘education, enterprise and employment’.  

Ms Truss believes there is too much emphasis on ‘targets and quotas’ which ‘artificially fix an outcome’ instead of ‘promoting equality of opportunity and addressing the root causes of inequality’, a source close to the minister said. 

The source added: ‘We need to have right-thinking people in these positions who will challenge stale and orthodox thinking. 

‘Rather than looking at class and privilege and fixating on people who are successful, she [Ms Truss] wants more focus on how we give everyone the best chance to succeed.’ 


Liz Truss (left) has tasked the conservative headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh (right), who leads the Michaela Community School in north London, with tackling the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations

It is expected that Ms Birbalsingh’s will pay particular attention to helping people start businesses and focusing on key skills like maths and English in education. 

Ms Truss said of Ms Birbalsingh: ‘By expecting high standards and not indulging the soft bigotry of low expectations she produced amazing results at Michaela school and gave those children the best chance in life.  

‘She will bring that same attitude to the commission and be a loud champion of equality of opportunity.’

Ms Birbalsingh is the founder and headteacher of the notoriously uncompromising Michaela Community School in Wembley, north London, and has been dubbed Britain’s strictest headteacher.

She had previously risen to prominence for speaking out against schools teaching ‘white privilege’.  

Ms Truss said of Ms Birbalsingh: ‘By expecting high standards and not indulging the soft bigotry of low expectations she produced amazing results at Michaela school and gave those children the best chance in life’ 

Ms Birbalsingh was subject to ridicule from teacher unions after an appearance at the Tory party conference in 2010 where she promoted a strict, old-fashioned approach to learning.

She credits her father, who received an ‘old-fashioned British education in British Guyana’, with her success.  

Earlier this year, Ms Birbalsingh took a swipe at  at ‘woke culture’ for ‘mercilessly attacking’ black conservatives who ‘dare to think for themselves’. 

She said: ‘It is always acceptable in our woke culture of 2021 to mercilessly attack black conservatives. 

‘They have ‘betrayed’ their leftist masters by daring to think for themselves, when they should be grateful.

‘THAT is institutionalised/cultural racism. And it is everywhere.’

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