When I criticised our broken education system at last year's Conservative Party conference I lost my job as a teacher. Nowadays, I live off my savings and I earn some money by writing and talking about our education system, attempting to give an alternative view to what is normally heard. I am also setting up a free school. This column will be a diary of my current journey, trying to make a difference to our schools.
Is it really possible that we live in a country where teachers are not allowed to speak out, to think outside of the box and to vote Conservative? Some lefties tell me that "someone like me" should know better. I belong to an ethnic minority, was educated at a comprehensive school, taught in an inner-city school, and am dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children. Yet criticising some of Labour's policies of failing our children over the last decade has made me enemy number one in some circles.
I continue to speak out against these policies and the prizes-for-all mentality that I believe has crippled our school system for years because I want what is best for all of our children. British children are rated 16th in the world for science, 25th for reading and 28th for maths, according to the OECD's 2009 Pisa report. The 2000 Pisa report ranked British children fourth in science, seventh for reading and eighth for maths. We now spend more than £80 billion a year (double what we spent in the 1990s) on education and yet British schoolchildren have plummeted in the international league tables. While more money is always a good thing, this doesn't mean that lack of money is our main problem. Our school system is badly broken, and until Michael Gove started making his changes, I had given up all hope.
One of the bright lights in recent education policy is the free school movement. I am attempting to set up a free school in Lambeth, south London, to open in September 2012. It is a secondary school called Michaela Community School and it aims to bring tradition back to the inner city. I believe in imparting knowledge to our children, in high standards of behaviour and a smart uniform. I believe in allowing children to learn Latin and other academic subjects and "to win" without feeling a sense of shame.