Elite private schools are 'sitting ducks' for 'woke' attacks on privileged, says former social mobility tsar

23 January 2023, 15:10

Fee-charging schools have handed too much authority to pupils, Katharine Birbalsingh said.
Fee-charging schools have handed too much authority to pupils, Katharine Birbalsingh said. Picture: Getty

By Emma Soteriou

"Woke" attacks on the privileged will destroy elite private schools, the former social mobility tsar has said.

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Katharine Birbalsingh said Britain’s public schools were threatened by "incessant" and "woke" attacks.

She said schools has lost their traditional sense of duty towards the less fortunate, where they set the standards for everyone else.

Ms Birbalsingh added that schools had handed authority to pupils in a bid to shift to child-centred learning, focusing on creativity and independence.

“Turns out that this is a lethal combination which makes private schools into sitting ducks for the movement of woke," she said.

She went on to instead praise schools with centuries of history, saying: "Someone has to lead the private sector in the fight that lies ahead. The survival of traditionalism depends on it."

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"Recently, the private schools and in particular some of the more established public schools, remind me of the iceberg that has melted over time, weakened by their misplaced love of child-centred learning and rejection of adult authority over decades," Ms Birbalsingh said in an essay for a book titled The State of Independence.

"In such a fragile state, when the woke brigade comes searching, these schools flip right over, suddenly and without warning, bowing to the incessant cry against the privileged.

"Once upon a time, public schools were bastions of traditionalism, setting the standard for the rest of us.

"The richer in society used to have a sense of duty towards those less fortunate and these schools made it their raison d’être to inspire young men and women to serve others.

"Many graduates from these schools would seek careers that would allow them ‘to give back’ and live out their duty."

Ms Birbalsingh, who is head teacher of Michaela Community School in north London, stepped down from her role as social mobility tsar last year after claiming her frank views put it in jeopardy. She wrote the essay before resigning.

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