Blah Blah:

Sandwich of Sin Issued in Detentionised Dinner

Poor parents? No lunch.

Katherine Birbalsingh the deluded disciplinarian and head of Michaela Community School in Wembley has implemented a literal lunchtime detention for any child whose parents have struggled to pay for their school meals.

If you’re reading this Katherine we just want to disclose that this is site is built on liberal principals, the very thing that you are not. For the record, if someone in our office can’t afford lunch we feed them. Why? Because it’s a nice thing to do, it makes sure they’re fed, it doesn’t make them feel like shit and we certainly don’t send out brutally cold and grammatically incorrect letters to parents.

Have a little read of this letter, written by head of languages Barry ‘entire sixty minutes period’ Smith. This cold and quite frankly rude letter was sent out to parents who owed money for school dinners. As you can see, the amounts were one week overdue, hardly a major timeframe considering the chaos of the first week of sending your child to school combined with the cost of uniforms and equipment. Believe it or not £75 can be quite an amount to cough up in one go.

school letterThe signature symbolises how much Barry Smith probably didn’t think too long on how to approach the subject of owed monies. If I had to put money on it I don’t even think he wrote this letter, he probably had his secretary throw it together during his or her lunch break whilst he got all hot and sweaty over the school’s budget report. But that’s just speculation.

Look how the words are boldified to really drive home the fact that the payment hasn’t been made. Look at how the words lunch isolation stand out, really driving home the fact that your child will be segregated.

“Where’s Jimmy going?”
“Oh he has to go to lunch isolation because his dad had to get the car fixed and can’t afford his lunch for another few days”
“Haha Jimmy’s parents are poor, he shouldn’t be here, let’s hate him”

“Hey Jackie, want to come and play with us?”
“Sorry guys, my dog went to the vet this week so mum couldn’t pay my lunch and as a result I have to sit in solitary confinement with a sandwich I can’t eat for an hour before returning to intense lessons from a man who can’t write a simple letter”

That’s an example of the prejudice that will follow from punishing children for something completely out of their hands.

Wasn’t it Donald Trump who said “We should be going for their families” in relation to terrorists? Is Mrs. Birbalsingh not adopting the same tactless ideas as Trump regarding lunch bills?

Why doesn’t Barry Smith know that neither the word lunch nor the word isolation are not proper nouns?

If the amount is payable in full why has the head of English written ‘this term’s lunch payments was 1st June 2016’?

Surely that should read: This term’s lunch payment was due on the…

or: this term’s lunch payments were due on…

This guy is supposed to be the head of languages, I would be writing him a letter asking if his qualifications are genuine and did he actually write this letter?

They will receive a sandwich and a piece of fruit only.

Does that mean the child will not receive a drink? What if the child can’t have gluten, or is celiac? What is in this sandwich? Is it real butter or cheap spread? What are you putting into these sandwiches?

Where is the paragraph that says something like “If you are experiencing issues with making a payment at this time, please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange a payment plan”? – I have seen letters from some real nasty ass debt recovery companies that are politer and more compassionate to someone’s situation than this letter. This letter from a school, a place where children should feel involved, safe, included and judgement free.

Instead, regardless of your reason for late payment, your child will be moved into a room for sixty minutes to eat a sandwich and a fruit. Do they get to choose the fruit? Personally, I hate fruit and would be throwing it back at your elitist faces whilst screaming for a Penguin!

I just can’t get passed the irony of this letter from a ‘free school’. Says it all really.

Michaela community school sounds for all intents and purposes like an imperialistically oppressive environment, the type of school that George Orwell would have written about, the kind of school that Roald Dahl did write about. It’s all about discipline, detentions are commonplace at lunchtime and after school.

There are arguments that the school is not at fault and that parents should pay what they are expected to pay. Fair point, however some of these letters were sent out despite parents having paid and their children were isolated regardless. Additionally, as I stated above this could be down to financial issues or mitigating circumstances but the letter does not offer recognition of such things. It sets out to make the parents and the child feel penalised for something that is really quite trivial.

The school does not allow parents to provide their children with a packed lunch.

Tyranny is punishing the innocent for the actions of the guilty. That is what is happening to these children.

If anyone believes that discipline is the sole device needed to raise healthy, well rounded children then you should not conceive, nor should you work in any position that involves children and their academic, mental and physical growth.

“The children will tell you they have never worked as hard as they have since coming here” – taken from the annoying auto-play video off the school’s website. Have they never seen The Shining?

What does Ms. Ashford Director of Inclusion think about this ordeal? Surely that goes against her purview? Or is it a case of if staff question a decision they end up in Opinion Isolation until such a time as they agree to it?

The motto for the school is ‘knowledge is power’ but it seems that the power is being abused and in place of knowledge you have fear. Fear of being penalised, fear of being ridiculed or branded lazy or stupid, that is what this school seems to set-out for its 840 pupils.

Considering her degree in Philosophy Mrs. Birbalsingh seems content on adopting 198-esque, Big Brother-like teaching tactics at the detriment of 840 naive, hormonal, confused children. Let’s top that off by locking them in a concrete room with nothing but a sandwich and fruit and no doubt that will help them blossom into the great minds of humanities’ future.

Regardless of how you feel about discipline and asking for money, this school has behaved disgustingly and owes not only some sincere apologies but some decent food to those poor pupils who were dietary and socially punished in an environment that they should feel safe and welcome in.

Katherine Birbalsingh, your photo is now on The Shonk’s dart board of shame. Barry Smith, your ability to write letters is as bad as your ability to stand up to authority and state when something is very wrong.

Please feel free to contact the school with any concerns regarding this matter on:



About DukeofEarl (74 Articles)
Co-founder and author for The Shonk. Site administrator and general human.

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