Michaela Community School

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Michaela Community School
Michaela Community School Logo.png
North End Road

, ,

Coordinates51°33′43″N 0°16′45″W / 51.56198°N 0.27913°W / 51.56198; -0.27913Coordinates: 51°33′43″N 0°16′45″W / 51.56198°N 0.27913°W / 51.56198; -0.27913
Other names
  • MCS
  • Michaela
TypeFree school
  • Knowledge is power
  • Work hard, be kind
EstablishedSeptember 2014 (2014-09)
Local authorityBrent London Borough Council
TrustMichaela Community School
Department for Education URN140862 Tables
HeadmistressKatharine Birbalsingh
Age range11–18
Enrolment597 (2019)[1]

Michaela Community School (simply referred to as MCS or Michaela) is an 11–18 mixed, free secondary school and sixth form in Wembley, Greater London, England. It was established in September 2014 by Katharine Birbalsingh and Suella Braverman.


Michaela Community School was established in September 2014 by Katharine Birbalsingh and Suella Braverman (née Fernandes) in a converted office block.[3][4][5] It opened with 120 Year 7 pupils and aims to have 840 by 2020, including a sixth form.[3] It was named after Birbalsingh's former colleague Michaela Emanus.[6]

A book titled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers was published in 2016 and was written by teachers at the school. It describes Michaela's teaching methods.[7] The school was rated as "outstanding" in all categories by Ofsted in May 2017.[8] In 2018, it applied to the Department for Education to open a second free school in Stevenage, with a planned opening in 2023.[9][10] It was approved in June 2019.[11][12]

In its first set of GCSE results in August 2019, half of the pupils who sat exams got Grade 7 or above in at least five subjects and almost a quarter got Grade 7 or better in all their subjects.[13] Overall 18% of entries received grade 9, the highest grade, compared to 4.5% nationwide.[6] In maths, one entry in four achieved grade 9.[14] The school's Progress 8 benchmark score placed it fifth nationally.[15][16]

In November 2019, the school was praised by Andreas Schleicher, coordinator of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).[17][18]


The emphasis of the school is on discipline and has a traditional style of teaching. There is a "zero tolerance" policy regarding poor behaviour; a "boot camp" week at the start of the year teaches the children the rules and the consequences of breaking them. A strict uniform code and no group work; children sit in rows and learn by rote, and walk in single file between classrooms. Staff at the school "tend to reject most of the accepted wisdoms of the 21st century."[19][20][2][21]

Its pupils write several essays a year, achieve at least two years of progress in their reading in one year, memorise poems, and read five Shakespeare plays in three years. They are taught a "culture of kindness", which includes helping each other and their families, and offering adults their seats on buses and the Tube.[2]

Family lunch[edit]

Lunchtime consists of a "family lunch" of pescatarian[22] dishes, where pupils sit at tables of six, plus one teacher or guest, and take responsibility for serving each other. They lay the table together, one pours the water, and another brings the food and serves it. Someone else serves dessert, and two pupils clear the table afterwards. Teachers eat with them, and the tables discuss what the children have learned that day, or a topic of the day such as the most inspirational person they have learned about in their history classes. After eating the pupils spend five minutes thanking someone, followed by two claps from the rest of the school. By teaching gratitude, the school believes it is teaching kindness and happiness.[3][23]

The school charges £2.50 per day for a two-course lunch, as well as morning and afternoon snacks; families eligible for free school meals are reimbursed.[24] Children are not allowed to bring food or drink to school, which includes snacks and chewing gum. There was criticism in July 2016 that the school had held pupils in "lunch isolation" because their parents had not paid the meal fees. Birbalsingh responded that the practice was part of the school's focus on personal responsibility, and that no child is left without lunch.[25]

Notable staff[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Michaela Community School". Get information about schools. GOV.UK. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Birbalsingh, Katharine (17 November 2016). "London headteacher: 'Boot camp' discipline and 'tough love' key to high standards in schools". ITV News. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Birbalsingh, Katharine, ed. (2016). Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers: The Michaela Way. John Catt Educational Limited. ISBN 978-1909717961.
  4. ^ Braverman, Suella (26 June 2019). "I started a free school: the new PM should ensure every town has one". The Times. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  5. ^ Vaughan, Richard (4 May 2017). "How the strictest school in Britain survives in a 'broken' system". i. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b Horton, Helena (22 August 2019). "Britain's strictest school's first GCSE results are four times better than national average". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  7. ^ Ashford, Katie (26 November 2016). "'Teaching is workload-addicted. Teachers seem to believe hard work equates to love for one's pupils'". TES. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  8. ^ Adams, Richard (16 June 2017). "Britain's strictest school gets top marks from Ofsted". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  9. ^ Roberts, John (7 November 2018). "Plan for new Michaela Community free school revealed". TES. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  10. ^ McEvoy, Louise (16 October 2018). "Plans for new secondary school in Stevenage to be submitted to Department for Education". The Comet. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  11. ^ Busby, Eleanor (14 June 2019). "Britain's strictest school to open second free school after government backing". The Independent. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  12. ^ Lough, Catherine (14 June 2019). "'Strictest school' gets green light for new secondary". TES. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  13. ^ "'It's good to have rules, children know where they stand'". BBC News. 22 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  14. ^ Weale, Sally (22 August 2019). "Controversial Michaela free school delights in GCSE success". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  15. ^ Adams, Richard (17 October 2019). "Pupils with behavioural issues failing to meet exam benchmark". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  16. ^ Turner, Camilla (17 October 2019). "More than half of state school pupils failing to achieve 'strong pass' in English and maths GCSEs". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  17. ^ Civinini, Claudia (20 November 2019). "'Strictest school' gets top marks from Pisa chief". TES. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  18. ^ Griffiths, Sian; Henry, Julie (1 December 2019). "England to storm up league table for reading". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  19. ^ "So you want to work at Michaela?". Michaela Community School. Archived from the original on 31 October 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Recruitment". Michaela Community School. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  21. ^ Adams, Richard (30 December 2016). "'No excuses': inside Britain's strictest school". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Weekly Meal Planner". Michaela Community School. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  23. ^ "Family lunch". Michaela Community School. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  24. ^ "General information". Michaela Community School. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  25. ^ Adams, Richard (29 July 2016). "Headteacher defends policy of putting pupils in 'lunch isolation'". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  26. ^ "Team". Michaela Community School. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  27. ^ "Governors". Michaela Community School. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  28. ^ Braverman, Suella (13 August 2019). "Suella Braverman: The momentum for free schools has stalled. Johnson's new Government should revive it". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 14 August 2019.

External links[edit]