Politics

Birbalsingh’s commission to investigate effective teaching styles

Social Mobility Commission vows to find best strategies to boost outcomes, with ‘particular interest’ in teaching quality and style

Social Mobility Commission vows to find best strategies to boost outcomes, with ‘particular interest’ in teaching quality and style

The Social Mobility Commission – led by Britain’s “strictest headteacher” Katharine Birbalsingh – will investigate which teaching styles work best to boost outcomes for poorer pupils.

The commission published its 2022-23 business plan today, titled ‘A Fresh Approach to Social Mobility’.

Birbalsingh, headteacher of Michaela free school in London, pledged earlier this year to look at how “opportunities can be improved for everyone”. Previously the focus has been too much on those going to Oxbridge or becoming top lawyers, she said.

The commission’s aim is to “understand what educational strategies work best to promote good outcomes for schools and students”, the business plan states.

This will include trying to “establish a better understanding of interventions which work”.

“We will review what practices schools are implementing to improve outcomes for pupil premium students, particularly those that perform well on progress 8 measures.

“Against this background, we will develop a research project to understand how these practices may relate to students’ progress, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

“We are particularly interested in learning more about aspects of teaching quality and style.”

Birbalsingh’s own school tops progress 8 tables

One school likely to feature in the work is Birbalsingh’s own, which boasts the highest progress 8 score in the country – 2.27. This means pupils at Michaela achieved on average over two grades better than expected.

Michaela has been dubbed the strictest school in the country, with silent corridors and other controversial policies such as ditching SEND labels and giving detentions for failing to have a pen.

Back in 2016, Birbalsingh told The Sunday Times: “I think all schools should be super-strict. It is about believing that children do best in an ordered and structured environment.”

Birbalsingh tweeted yesterday that schools with “great progress” have “brilliant” discipline, “explicit traditional” teaching, adult authority and “relentless belief in personal responsibility for everyone”.

“If you want schools to have impact, values matter,” she added.

The commission’s business plan added: “Understanding ‘what works’ for families and schools can help us to raise awareness and advocate for the best evidence-based approaches to ensure that all children get the best start in life and ultimately, improve their social mobility prospects and fulfil their potential.”

The commission will also “explore the impact of previous government-led initiatives targeting families to understand ‘what works’ in terms of enabling every child to fulfil their potential.”

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