Headteacher defends policy of putting pupils in ‘lunch isolation’

The Guardian are reporting that the head of a London secondary school that places pupils in “lunch isolation” if their parents don’t pay for school meals is unapologetic over the policy, arguing that parents who refuse to pay are betraying their children’s education.

Katharine Birbalsingh, the head of Michaela community school in north-west London who imposed the policy, argued that the children affected were from dysfunctional homes and needed the school’s support.

“Free school meals looks after the poorest. Even then we have all sorts of systems for people who really are in financial need, and I mean the real ones. I don’t mean the ones who are playing the system, trying to get other poor families to pay for their child’s food.”

“We’ve got three families in the whole of the school where this is the case. They are all families who are betraying their children. One we are reporting to social services,” Birbalsingh said.

Michaela prides itself on rigorous discipline. Its behaviour policy details demerits for daydreaming or slouching in class, or for having a loosely knotted tie. A full detention is earned by poor reading, swearing or lateness.

Michaela’s arrears policy was criticised by the National Union of Teachers, which said: “Schools should be careful not to create a situation in which children are stigmatised because of budgetary issues which are beyond their concern.”

More at: Headteacher defends policy of putting pupils in ‘lunch isolation’

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Categories: Policy.

Comments

  1. Nairb1

    The headteacher can defend her policy as much as she likes but that doesn’t alter the fact that isolating pupils because of an issue with parental finances is 100% wrong.

  2. LeoToAquarius

    Nairb1  Rubbish – schools do this for the wrong  uniform and shoes – isolation from lessons and lunchtime until it is fixed – some send the students home – others give them a time limited uniform pass for 1 day to several weeks – but isolation is still used

  3. gov2

    LeoToAquarius Doing things for entirely legitimate reasons is not the same as vindictively punishing children for the failings of their parents.  Either all these parents should be investigated by social services and the children otherwise supported or some of the families should be prosecuted for any debt they owe and the children otherwise supported.  That’s not rocket science albeit unsurprisingly too difficult for Michaela to comprehend.

  4. gov2

    LeoToAquarius Doing things for entirely legitimate reasons is not the same as vindictively punishing children for the failings of their parents.  Either all these parents should be investigated by social services and the children otherwise supported or some of the families should be prosecuted for any debt they owe and the children otherwise supported.  That’s not rocket science albeit unsurprisingly too difficult for Michaela to comprehend.

  5. YorkshireTeach

    SchoolsImprove Still no reason to put the child in isolation. Their policies re behaviour are worrying – detention for poor reading?!

  6. @gov2 LeoToAquarius Ms B is punishing children not because of the child’s wrongdoing but because their parents are doing wrong.  She obviously believes the ‘sins of the fathers’ should trickle down the generations.  Not a very charitable attitude from anyone let alone a head.

  7. Ms B sometimes appears to hold a vindictive attitude towards particular pupils.  In this case, it is children of parents who don’t pay for their child’s lunch who are punished.   In her speech to the Tory conference in 2010 she mocked a pupil whose photo was shown on screen.  Her sneering comments about the easily-identifiable boy were greeting with claps and cheers.
    Such unprofessional behaviour throws doubt on her ability to be a teacher let alone run a school.  A doctor who similarly mocked a patient at a conference would likely be struck off.

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