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在英国最严格的学校里,学生们在游行时吟唱诗歌

MOST people would run a mile rather than join a room full of teenagers for their school dinner.

At best, you might imagine making awkward conversation with sullen adolescents, at worst, 一种 Grange Hill-style food fight.

Katharine Birbalsingh is headmistress at the Michaela Community School — dubbed 'Britain’s strictest school'

Katharine Birbalsingh is headmistress at the Michaela Community School — dubbed ‘Britain’s strictest school
Pupils file into lunch chanting lines from classic poetry such as Julius Caesar and Invictus

Pupils file into lunch chanting lines from classic poetry such as Julius Caesar and Invictus

What actually happened at the Michaela Community School — dubbed “Britain’s strictest school” — was certainly noisy, but not in the way you might expect.

Pupils file into lunch chanting lines from classic poetry such as Julius Caesar and Invictus.

“I am the master of my fate,” they yell. “I am the captain of my soul.”

It goes on and on, led by maths teacher Mr Bullock, who only needs to shout one line for them to recite the rest. The most passionate are rewarded with merits.

Read more on the school

I'm Britain's strictest headteacher, I think detention is an 'act of love'

TOUGH LESSON

I’m Britain’s strictest headteacher, I think detention is an ‘act of love

Over cheesy pasta and a hunk of cake, engaging, ambitious young people tell me how much they love their school. 是的, even with the many, many detentions, of which more later.

But there’s little time for chitchat — and that’s deliberate — before they are clearing plates, checking for crumbs under their chairs and practising their “appreciations”.

Volunteers are then picked to address the hall. One lad thanks the teacher who taught him the pulmonary system that morning, another kid is grateful for their parents encouraging them to save money, and each little speech is followed by a sharp, two-beat clap.

The Sun is thanked — twice — for visiting.

在《太阳报》中阅读最多

在森林球场入侵者的恶毒袭击后,谢夫联队的夏普猛烈抨击“人渣”

粉丝羞耻

谢夫联的夏普抨击“渣男”’ 在森林球场入侵者的恶毒袭击之后

Then it’s a quick march out to the playground, which is actually a car park filled with billboard-sized inspirational quotes, wedged between a building site and Wembley Park Tube station in North 伦敦.

To say this school is different is an understatement. It’s like travelling back to the 1950s.

DEATH THREATS

I’ve never been called “Miss” so many times. “Are you having a good day, Miss?” “Would you like a glass of water, Miss?”

Rule number one is the “Michaela full stop” — any time you address a teacher or adult, the sentence ends with “Miss” or “Sir”.

It’s just one of the rigid expectations that wide-eyed Year Sevens are taught during their first week, when lessons are replaced with a “behaviour boot camp”.

There’s also the “SLANT” — which means they must Sit up straight, with arms folded, 听, Answer, Never interrupt and Track the teacher.

Katharine Birbalsingh, the headmistress — and it is “mistress”, not “teacher” — says: “If we haven’t taught them how to behave, they don’t know. Then they have a choice.”

The choice, 当然, is to abide by the rules or end up in detention until you do. And my goodness, there are a lot of detentions. They’re given out for what might seem minor misdemeanours, like forgetting to bring a spare pencil or failing to make eye contact with a teacher.

One lad, Ilyas, 14, got one this week for “dropping five points on my French quiz”.

He explains: “My teacher wants us to achieve high standards ahead of exams. 我刚开始的时候, I used to get a lot. I used to be scared of the teachers, 100 百分, Miss.”

Volunteers are then picked to address the hall. One lad thanks the teacher who taught him the pulmonary system that morning, another kid is grateful for their parents encouraging them to save money, and each little speech is followed by a sharp, two-beat clap.

Judging by the array of badges on his blazer, including ones for chess and debating clubs, attendance and “future leader”, he hasn’t done too badly for it.

And seeing how the children flock around Katharine when she joins them at break, eager to talk more about her assembly on delivering newspapers as a girl, it’s clear she’s not quite the terrifying dragon her critics imagine. She first came to prominence in 2010 when she told the Conservative Party conference that the state education system was broken.

Four years later, she opened her own free school, naming it after an inspirational — and very trad-itional — former colleague. But her methods brought a lot of criticism, even death threats.

她说: “很可怕. It wasn’t long after MP Jo Cox was murdered. I found my-self looking over my shoulder at times because it only takes one unstable person to react.

“You’d have thought we were setting up nuclear arms. All we were doing was opening a school in a deprived area for deprived kids.”

She even hired a bouncer at a parents’ meeting, so worried was she about her critics. Nowadays the hate is mainly confined to social media.

Besides The Sun, Katharine — who also chairs the Government’s Social Mobility Commission — has invited cameras in to film a documentary, Britain’s Strictest Headmistress.

我在比赛中变得更好, deputy head Brett Williams-Yale says: “Detractors think we’re North Korea, that the children are deeply unhappy, that we’re cruel to them, and they’ve never even visited.”

Mohamed, a year-ten pupil, 添加: “People say, ‘It’s sad you go to that prison’. They don’t realise we’re getting an extremely good education.”

这里, 40 per cent of pupils are classed as the most disadvantaged.

But while travelling in South Africa, Katharine saw attentive school children without enough money even for shoes, and knew that poverty is not the reason children fail. 她说: “If you get your behaviour right, so much else can fall into place.

“When people say we’re strict, it’s not that we’re mean, it’s that we’re very consistent with our rules and we have very high expectations.

“Our children are kind to each other, they’re resilient, ambitious and as skilled as they can be when they leave, and that’s what social mobility is about.”

And they are getting results. 去年, 80 per cent of their A-level pupils went on to world-class Russell Group universities, including three to Oxford or Cambridge. 今年, two students have Oxbridge offers.

People say, ‘It’s sad you go to that prison’. They don’t realise we’re getting an extremely good education.

Mohamed, a year-ten pupil

Before exam time, pupils willingly give up their phones for half a term, while the number of parents clamouring to get their children a place far outweighs the number available at Michaela, which is rated Outstanding by Ofsted.

The day starts at 7.55am sharp, 因为, as head of year nine Mr Bullock says: “There’s a lot to do!”

Everything is run with military precision, including rapid-fire count-downs to get children assembled and into class. They fall silent in seconds, just by a teacher raising a hand.

JOYFUL PLACE

It’s astonishing, almost eerily so, but these kids certainly aren’t robots.

Head girl Madiha, 16, is hoping to study biochemistry at Oxford. 她说: “Our teachers are from the best universities and although we are from one of the poorest boroughs, they teach us that we can do whatever we want in life, despite our background.”

The rules may seem archaic on paper, but there is a reason for each one. Plastic folders instead of back-packs means there’s no competition or status over the brand of bags.

Silent corridors ensure maximum efficiency, as teachers aren’t busy dealing with unruly behaviour, and pupils get to their lessons quickly.

Katharine, who slates rap and grime music as bad influences on children, 说: “We don’t have behavioural issues. People who have copied our methods say they don’t have to deal with fights or bullying after break time.”

In the shadow of Wembley Stadium, where football fans last weekend booed the national anthem, Michaela students belt out God Save The Queen, Jerusalem and I Vow To Thee My Country.

再次, there’s a purpose. Katharine, who grew up in Canada, 说: “We’re part of being British together, which is important, otherwise people descend into tribes.

“The only way a country can work is if we’re all under the same umbrella.”

And it isn’t just the children who go through a baptism of fire when they join, but teachers too.

Mr Bullock, who has been at the school for four years, 说: “You come here thinking you have high standards but you quickly see there are higher standards you can reach. 毫无疑问, I’m a better teacher now, in every possible way.”

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Inside the new space-themed hotel with a HUGE galactic water park

离开这个世界

Inside the new space-themed hotel with a HUGE galactic water park

Katharine hopes the documentary will show that the school isn’t run by “tyrants who don’t really like children”, and says: “It’s a joyful place. We have a loving environment that supports the children and helps them do well in life.”

  • Britain’s Strictest Headmistress is on ITV on Sunday at 10.15pm.
Maths teacher Mr Bullock only needs to shout one line for the students to recite the rest of the poems

Maths teacher Mr Bullock only needs to shout one line for the students to recite the rest of the poems
The number of parents clamouring to get their children a place far outweighs the number available at Michaela, which is rated Outstanding by Ofsted

The number of parents clamouring to get their children a place far outweighs the number available at Michaela, which is rated Outstanding by Ofsted