Archive for the ‘School Wars’ Category
I will be taking part in a few debates and discussions over the next few months.
First up – see below…..
MANCHESTER DEBATING UNION
This House Would Reintroduce Grammar Schools
February 5 @ 5:00 pm / 6:30 pm
This House Would Reintroduce Grammar Schools
Grammar schools, dominant in the UK until the 1960s, ran under a system of selective education. At age 11 all school students would be given a general intelligence exam. If a student passed they would gain entrance to a more academically based grammar school. If they failed they would be sent to a school focusing more on practical skills. There’s an increasing minority within the political establishment who argue that grammar schools should be reintroduced, including the resurgent UK Independence Party, believing that it offers an opportunity for the brightest students to thrive regardless of socioeconomic background. Critics argue that it creates segregation in our society, and only removes a few children from their troubled backgrounds rather than tacking the root causes of deprivation. This week the Manchester Debating Union asks: should we reintroduce grammar schools?
Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/1610632269165849/
– Proposition —
– Robert McCartney QC
Barrister and Former Leader of the UK Unionist Party and founder of the National Grammar Schools Association.
– Graham Brady MP
Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale West, former Shadow Secretary for Europe and Chairman of the 1992 Committee.
— Opposition —
– Melissa Benn
Journalist and author, founder of the Local Schools Network which campaigns in favour of a totally comprehensive schooling system.
– Professor Bernard Barker
IN CONVERSATION WITH OWEN JONES
September 29th, 7 pm. I will be in conversation with Owen Jones about his new book The Establishment: And how they get away with it
Location: Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, London E9 6JQ
The event is put on by Pages bookshop in Hackney. Go to their events page to book tickets for this event.
HENLEY LITERARY FESTIVAL
Feminist writer and activist Laura Bates and I: in conversation with Monisha Rajesh, talking about young women today, fourth wave feminism, sexism today and much much more.
2pm Town Hall £9
Box Office Mon-Fri 10am-2pm 01491 575948
CONFERENCE ON WOMEN AND EDUCATION
Thirtieth anniversary conference organised by Mulberry School for Girls:’ Educating Twenty First Century Women: Passion, Possibilities and Power’ on Friday 10th October 2014, at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Centre, Westminster, London.
The afternoon panel, beginning at 2pm, will discuss the empowerment and disempowerment of women in powerful institutions such as politics, religion and law. The other speakers are: Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP – Shadow Home Secretary Reverend Rose Hudson Wilkin – Speakers Chaplin at the House of Lords Eleanor Mills – Editorial Director of The Sunday Times Munira Mirza – Deputy Mayor of Education and Culture – Greater London Authority Jo Wilding – Human Rights Barrister at Garden Court Chamber – Ndidi Okezie – Educationalist and Regional Director at Teach First Chair: Kat Banyard – Founder of UKFeminsta and Author of The Equality Illusion
SYMPOSIUM ON EDUCATION AND RUSKIN.
I will be taking part in a symposium put on by the Guild of St. George and The Ruskin Library and Research Centre (Lancaster University) entitled: Education for Education’s Sake? A Symposium on Ruskin and modern education at Toynbee Hall 28 Commercial St, London E1 6LS United Kingdom 10.00 a.m. 4.30 p.m. Saturday, 11 October, 2014
WOMEN’S THERAPY CENTRE: ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The theme of this AGM will be mothers and daughters. Also speaking will be Dilek Gungor, senior psychotherapist, who will talk about a new WTC initiative for Mothers and Daughters.
11 am – 1pm, Friday October 17th, 2014
Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, London N1 2UD ( Committee Room 5)
OUR COMMUNITY, OUR SCHOOLS
Special meeting in Walthamstow, put on by Our Community, Our Schools on ‘What do we want from our schools? A Charter for Schools’ on Tuesday 21 October 2014
7.30pm, Harmony Hall, Truro Road, Walthamstow
For more details, go to this website.
The FORGIVENESS PROJECT
As part of a season looking at different aspects of forgiveness, I will be chairing a session on November 10th
wrestling with the question: How do words help relieve pain?
Exploring how the written and spoken word can help the recovery process will be Mr Gee, the acclaimed London poet, musician and comedian who recently presented Radio 4’s ‘Poetic Justice’ series encouraging inmates to write poems, and Marian Partington, whose sister was a victim of serial killers Frederick and Rosemary West and who has seen first-hand how recounting her story to offenders through The Forgiveness Project’s RESTORE programme has helped change lives. Marian’s remarkable and lyrical memoir ‘If You Sit Very Still’ tells the story. Tim Caroe is a GP who works with people (who are often called patients) and the stories they bring to him in his role as a doctor. He aims to help them to write the next chapter of their life narrative in a way that sustains them.
Venue: St Ethelburga’s Centre, Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AG
Doors open at 6pm with the conversation beginning at 6.30pm
Tickets cost £11 and available from here… http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-do-words-help-relieve-pain-tickets-11552470751
Please note tickets are not available on the door.
Below, my column in Education Guardian today.
A few weeks ago this newspaper published a piece by Sarah Vine, Daily Mail columnist and wife of the education secretary, Micheal Gove, explaining why they had decided to send their daughter to a London state school.
It was a funny and lively article, and I agreed with just about every word. I was particularly drawn to Vine’s argument about the importance of educating students with very different interests and talents alongside one another, her belief that state schools produce more rounded, socially open citizens and her surprisingly robust criticism of the exclusivity and excessive competition of so much of the private sector.
Yet as time has gone on, Vine’s article has unsettled me. Why? Am I being irrational or ungenerous, unable to welcome even the spouse of an uncompromising Tory frontbencher over to “our” side of the educational divide?
Read the rest of the article here.
Below, my latest piece in Guardian Comment, on education’s growing culture of overwork, and how it is affecting children and parents.
Do you know a ghost child? Are you possibly raising one? A report this week by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) pinpoints a worrying new phenomenon – the institutionalised infant, a whey-faced creature, stuck in school for 10 hours a day, the child of commuting parents possibly, wandering from playground to desk to after-school club without real purpose, nodding off through boredom and fatigue.
The sad thing is, as yet another timely ATL report brings home, the ghost child is increasingly likely to be taught by the ghost adult – a teacher grey with fatigue and stress, stuck at school for 10 hours or more a day, wandering from duty to duty in playground, classroom or after-school club. Both, it seems, are part of a culture that increasingly overworks our citizens, from a younger and younger age, in the often fruitless quest for job security and social mobility.
Read the rest of the article here.
If you didn’t catch it the first time, you might be interested now?
School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education
The story of the struggle for Britain’s schools, and a passionate call for education as a public good.
School Wars tells the story of the struggle for Britain’s education system. Established during the 1960s and based on the progressive ideal of good schools for all, the comprehensive system has over the past decades come under sustained attack from successive governments.
From the poorest comprehensives to the most well-resourced independent schools, School Wars takes a forensic look at the inequalities of our current system, the damaging impact of spending cuts, the rise of “free schools” and the growth of the private sector in education. Melissa Benn explores, too, the dangerous example of US education reform, where privatization, punitive accountability and the rise of charter schools have intensified social, economic and ethnic divisions.
The policies of successive British governments have been muddled and confused, but one thing is clear: that the relentless application of market principles signals a fundamental shift from the ideal of quality education as a public good, to education as market-controlled commodity. Benn ends by outlining some key principles for restoring strong educational values within a fair, non-selective public education system.
And here are some of the reviews:
“In this polemic, Benn sets herself up as a one-woman commission of inquiry, analyzing the social, political, and financial case for comprehensive schooling in a climate of spending cuts and a culture of privatization.”
– The Times
“This is a tremendous book. It is a passionate polemic about the most important policy divide of the day … It is powerful but also reasonably argued … [and] marks her out as one of Britain’s foremost advocates of comprehensive education.”
– Anthony Seldon, Observer
“Benn’s book could well be an important watershed. It is a clear-sighted re-statement of why universal, comprehensive education is – obviously – the best option. It should, and hopefully will, be taken as a rallying call to the left.”
– Phil Beadle, Independent
“An exceptionally well-informed, cogent, and spirited account of the debates over secondary education in Britain.”
– Stefan Collini, Nation
“If you read just one book on education this year, then make sure it’s School Wars by Melissa Benn. Brilliantly researched and compellingly written.”
– Roy Blatchford, Director of the National Education Trust
For more reviews and discussion of the themes of the book, please go to Verso’s website.