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  4. The Contrarian Prize Lecture - Against the Grain: How a brave Headteacher spearheaded an educational revolution




The Contrarian Prize Lecture - Against the Grain: How a brave Headteacher spearheaded an educational revolution




This webinar will take place over Zoom. You will need to register for a free Zoom account to gain access.

Katharine Birbalsingh in conversation with Ali Miraj

Katharine Birbalsingh won the 2019 Contrarian Prize for turning the educational orthodoxy, on how best to teach children, on its head. She made headlines in 2010 after publicly speaking out about how lack of discipline and low standards in inner city schools had left the education system broken and kept “poor children poor”.

She pulls no punches, and has argued that teachers tended to be blinded by leftist ideology, but that many of the necessary changes to the education system require conservative thinking. High expectations, competition, tough exams and good behaviour, are all essential in her view to ensure children have the best chance to achieve their potential.

The decision to put her head above the parapet cost her dear. Her position as Deputy Head of a school in Camberwell became untenable and she resigned. She was told by headhunters that she would probably never work in the state education sector again and the stress affected her health. After three years out in the cold, she managed to establish her own “free school” in Brent which had its first set of GCSE results in 2019, and ranked 5th in the country on progress in its 8 core subjects.

Irrespective of whether you agree with her, there should be space for open debate on the most effective manner in which to teach children. If you want to hear Katharine’s extraordinary story and learn about the culture within her school that provides the foundation for its success, then join us.

Katharine Birbalsingh
Katharine is headmistress and co-founder of Michaela Community School in Wembley, London. Michaela is known for its tough-love behaviour systems, knowledge curriculum and teaching of kindness and gratitude. She read philosophy and modern languages at the University of Oxford and has always taught in inner London. Katharine has written two books and edited two others, the latest of which is entitled “Michaela: The Power of Culture”.
Twitter: @Miss_Snuffy

Ali Miraj
Ali Miraj is a political columnist for TheArticle and regularly appears on Sky News and talkRADIO. He founded the Contrarian Prize to recognise the independence, courage and sacrifice of British public figures whose ideas challenge the status quo. He is also a House music DJ and has performed at leading venues around the world. By day he works in the City as an infrastructure financier.

He is national Vice President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, a board member of the London Institute of Banking and Finance and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers.  He was educated at the London School of Economics where he obtained degrees at both graduate and postgraduate level and is a qualified Chartered Accountant.
Twitter: @alimirajUK

For further information about the Contrarian Prize and its aims, visit

This event is hosted by The Business School (formerly Cass) as part of a series of the Contrarian Prize Lecture events, organised by the Contrarian Prize, an independent organisation. Contrarian Prize events have different hosts, topics and speakers and allow an intellectual forum for respectful and open discourse and debate on current issues.

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When and where

5.00pmWednesday 25th November 2020

Contact Details

City Events Team

+44 (0)20 7040 8037

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