Writer & Campaigner

Most Recent Post

Grammar schools don’t help social mobility – we need to start earlier

 November 21, 2016

So now we know for sure, thanks to the permanent secretary at the Department for Education, who really ought to order in some document folders pronto. Jonathan Slater slipped up outside No 10, accidentally revealing a briefing note, and thereby confirming that Theresa May’s government does indeed intend to open new selective schools – although this is only to be pursued “once we have worked with existing grammars to show how they can be expanded and reformed”.

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News

the-quality-of-mercy

tThe Truth About Our SchoolsThe Truth About Our Schools 
Published 25th November 2015

“A superb, crucial, blistering expose of all the myths about our education system that are all too often used to attack it..”           Owen Jones  

If you want to know more about the content of, and background to, the book please look at this piece on the Local School Network or read the text of my launch lecture. Janet Downs and I were also chosen as November 2015 Authors of the Month by Routledge our publishers. 

For details of other events, please look here.

Who She Is

Melissa Benn is a writer and campaigner. Her journalism has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Times, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Record, Marxism Today, the London Review of Books, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Public Finance and the New Statesman. She is currently a regular contributor to The Guardian and New Statesman.

Melissa has written seven books including two novels: Public Lives and One of Us . Her non-fiction works include Madonna and Child: Towards a New Politics of Motherhood ; School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education; and What Should We Tell Our Daughters?: The Pleasures and Pressures of Growing Up Female.

Melissa is a regular speaker and broadcaster. She has written and presented several Radio Four programmes and has been a guest on the Today programme, Woman’s Hour, Saturday Live, A Good Read and the Sky Book Show.  She has spoken at the Hay, Edinburgh, Bath and Cheltenham literary festivals and numerous seminars and public meetings on education, feminism and general equality issues. 

Melissa is currently Chair of Comprehensive Future, a cross-party group campaigning for an end to selective education. She is a vice president of the Socialist Education Association, a founder member of the Local Schools Network and a member of the Oxford Women in the Humanities Advisory Board.

Other Recent Posts

Twice Bottled Grief: the defiant life of Tony Garnett

 September 5, 2016

Unlike Ken Loach, his friend and frequent collaborator, Tony Garnett remains a shadowy figure in the story of British radical film-making – yet has been just as vital, responsible for a string of pioneer productions from Cathy Come Home and Kes to Law and Order and This Life. Reflecting on some of the emotional reasons for his relatively low public profile, he comes to the conclusion that it is because “I didn’t want to lie”. At one level,

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Why do we love the NHS but not state education?

 August 8, 2016

If you really want to understand the subtly shifting place of education in the nation’s psyche, you could start by watching Channel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E. Dedicated professionals deploying skill, tenacity and tenderness towards citizens of every age, faith, shape and class – it’s a story we seem never to tire of. It’s proof that the NHS, despite all its problems, is still the nearest thing this country has to a religion. And yet, this passion for our often struggling health system poses a conundrum that has long fascinated me.

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What They Say

 

‘(A highlight was) seeing Melissa Benn and David Aaronovitch, both highly skilled in the art of arguing, trade verbal blows at this year’s (absolutely packed) New Statesman debate.’

Tom Gatti,Culture editor, New Statesman.

Melissa Benn… spoke brilliantly … about the challenges women are facing today … Benn is a first-rate public speaker.’

The Daily Telegraph

‘Benn grapples eloquently with character, self, confidence, anger, the unquantifiable but elemental traits that makes us human…’

Financial Times on What Should We Tell Our Daughters?

‘One novel that stands out for me is Melissa Benn’s ‘One of Us,’ just out in England from Chatto & Windus. It’s an insider look at politics and power, but it’s a rich and heart-breaking novel in its own right. I can’t get it out of my mind.’

Sara Paretsky on One of Us.

‘This is a tremendous book … [a] passionate polemic about the most important policy divide of the day. The book’s publication marks out her out as one of Britain’s foremost advocates of comprehensive education.’

Anthony Seldon,in the Observer, on School Wars

‘Extraordinary………an emotional and political tour de force.’

Independent on Sunday on One of Us.

‘Insightful, deeply affecting.’“

Time Out on One of Us. 

‘Never has it been more urgent to publicise the truth about what works and doesn’t work in our education system. ..This hugely important book should be required reading for each new Education Secretary.’

Caroline Lucas MP on The Truth About Our Schools

Exceptional……….The language is stunning; controlled, yet very powerful and evocative, and the tale is told with incredible subtlety.

Helena Kennedy on Public Lives