London deputy head is party's new pin-up
A French teacher at an academy in south London received a standing ovation for her speech to the Conservative conference on Tuesday.
Speaking ahead of Michael Gove's keynote speech, Katharine Birbalsingh (inset), deputy headteacher at St Michael and All Angels Academy in Camberwell, told the gathered Tory faithful that her experience over ten years of working in the classroom had convinced her that the "system is broken".
Ms Birbalsingh told delegates she was an Oxford graduate and that during her time at university she was a "serious lefty", reading Marxism Today and even flirting with the Socialist Workers Party until she became a teacher.
"We have a situation where standards have been so dumbed down that even the children know it," Ms Birbalsingh said. "When I give them past exam papers to do from 1998, they groan and beg for a 2005 or 2006 paper, because they know it'll be easier."
The teacher, who was born to an Indian Guyanese father and a Jamaican mother, added that leftleaning liberalism was holding black boys back, and the fear of being accused of racism was preventing schools from disciplining such boys.
"If you keep telling teachers that they're racist for trying to discipline black boys, and if you keep telling heads that they're racist for trying to exclude black boys, in the end the schools stop reprimanding these children," she said. "Black children underachieve because of what the well-meaning liberal does to him."