Social mobility tsar sparks backlash after claiming children are born with ‘original sin’ as she is accused of ‘whipping up division’
Children are born with ‘original sin’ and need to be taught to be good, according to the country’s so-called strictest headteacher.
Newly appointed Government adviser Katharine Birbalsingh, now the chairwoman of the social mobility commission, was slammed for ‘whipping up division’ in a Twitter spat.
Birbalsingh, formerly headteacher at St Michael and All Angels Academy in Camberwell, south London, said all children need to be ‘taught right from wrong’.
She had responded to a comment from a social media user which read ‘we are all born bad’. Birbalsingh, 48, wrote: ‘Exactly. Original sin. Children need to be taught right from wrong and then habituated into choosing good over evil.
‘That requires love and constant correction from all the adults in their lives over years. Moral formation is a good thing.’
Newly appointed Government adviser Katharine Birbalsingh (pictured), now the chairwoman of the social mobility commission, was slammed for ‘whipping up division’ in a Twitter spat
Her comments were blasted as ‘unhelpful’ by Saeed Atcha, who served as commissioner for young people for three years before his term ended yesterday. He said he hoped it was not ‘a sign of things to come’.
He told the Times: ‘When I read the comments, I just thought that the role of the chair of the commission is not to be making unhelpful comments like that and whipping up division.
‘Social mobility is serious business and very complex and requires people coming together. It’s a tone that the commission has used throughout our three years.’
Jessica Oghenegweke, another departing commissioner, said she disagreed with Birbalsingh. She said she had always viewed children ‘in the best light’ and any negativity came from an absence of support.
Sammy Wright, commissioner for schools and vice-principal at Southmoor Academy in Sunderland, said she supported Birbalsingh’s point but didn’t think it was very well phrased.
She said Twitter spats were not helpful for social mobility.
Boris Johnson visits Michaela Community School in Wembley, London in 2015, as children take part in a history lesson
Birbalsingh will ‘level up opportunity and give everyone the chance to succeed’ in her new role, according to Liz Truss, the women and equalities minister.
The former headteacher spoke about state education at the Conservative Party conference in 2010. She later resigned from St Michael and All Angels Academy in Camberwell, south London, to set up the Michaela Community School, in Wembley, northwest London.
She believes education should be centred on the teacher and the ‘adult is the authority in the classroom’.
At her school teachers do not accept excuses, children must walk in single file and silence and lateness is punished by detention.
Following the resignation of the previous commission chairwoman Dame Martina Milburn in May 2020, it has been jointly led by Sandra Wallace and Steven Cooper.