Melissa Benn

Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Apologies for lack of website activity over the past few months (site statistics suggest a lot of you have been visiting this site during this period) but I am sure regular readers will understand – given the final illness and death of my father, Tony Benn, a few weeks ago – why I have been so quiet.

Am now, slowly, picking up the threads of life and work.

Below, then, a few upcoming public events/discussions.

Most, but not all, of these connect to the late March paperback publication of ‘What Should We Tell Our Daughters?’ For reviews of the book, see previous post.

But many of these discussions touch on more general feminist themes and are part of a wonderfully diverse and vibrant ongoing public debate on so many aspects of women’s lives.

Please come along!

April 16th,Blackwell’s Bookshop, Oxford, at 7pm.

I will be in conversation with Selina Todd about ‘The People’, her extraordinary history of the working class over the last century.

April 22nd 7pm

ELF debate: Fifty Years of Feminism.

With Jude Kelly, Laura Bates of ‘Everyday Sexism’ and Beatrix Campbell.

Venue: Rich Mix (in the main space), 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA
Time: 22 April 2014 at 7pm

This is a free event, but RSVP is essential – book your tickets here. You can also watch the live stream online from 7pm
@EastFawcett#Feminism50

Apparently this event is now sold out, but there is a waiting list for those still keen to come.

April 29th 6pm Stratford Arts House/ part of Stratford on Avon Literary Festival

World War 1 – the War that Changed Women’s Lives.

Chaired by the writer Vik Groskop, our panel will discuss the impact of the war on women,
some of the women who had the most impact on social change for women and ask how much
further women have come on the road to equality. With Baroness Shirley Williams and novelist Judith Allnatt.

May 1st 6.30pm

The F word: Twenty First Century Feminism

Discussion with writer Anne Dickson on modern feminism, particularly looking at the role of men in current campaigns.

May 12th 7pm

Discussion on ‘What Should We Tell Our Daughters?’hosted by the wonderful independent hackney bookshop Pages.

With Kat Banyard of UK Feminista and Kate Pickett, co-author of The Spirit Level, chaired by Zoe Williams of the Guardian.

May 13th 7pm

Smashing The Glass Ceiling: Women in the PUblic Sphere.

At the Working Men’s College, Crowndale Road, Camden.

With Tulip Siddiq, Amy Lame and Bonnie Greer.

Free lectures – reserve places by email or phone
Tel: 020 7255 4748
Email: lectures@wmcollege.ac.uk


Coming up…..!

Will post further summer events in a couple of weeks: including a first ever visit, with the Local Schools Network, to the Sunday Times Education Conference and two events at the Edinburgh festival.

Below, details of some of the events I have been – or will be – taking part in over the autumn, as part of publication of ‘What Should We Tell Our Daughters?’ ( Unless otherwise stated, this will usually be the title of the session…)

Please come along – and join the discussion…

.

Friday 23rd August

6.30pm Greenbelt Festival
Venue: Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire

Monday 9th September

‘Finding a public voice’ Key Note Speech at Induction Day: Camden School for Girls, North London.

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( above, picture taken with the Camden Sixth Form leadership group – what a team!)

Thurs 19th September

“How to be Female and Awesome.’ 4pm Blenheim Literary Festival with Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman and Polly Morland, author of The Society of Timid Souls -Or How to be Brave (published by Profile).

further details from: http://blenheimpalaceliteraryfestival.com/literature-events-2013/thursday-19/how-to-be-female-and-awesome.

Saturday 21st September – mid afternoon – Brighton

Labour Women’s Conference. Debate with Bonnie Greer and Caroline Criado-Perez on ‘everyday sexism and how to fight it..’ A thousand strong audience here; according to Harriet Harman, who spoke later in the day, this was the largest ever political meeting of women held in this country, certainly in recent times.

images

( You can just about spot the One Nation logo behind my head!)

Tuesday 24th September

Discussion on BBC Woman’s Hour about the book with Erinn Dhesi.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03bds3m

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( Erinn and I just before we went into the studio: her first time on national radio, she was amazingly calm!)

Thursday 26th September – Publication Day!

‘Meet the Author’ Interview on the themes of the book with Nick Higham on BBC News 24.

IMG-20130926-00087

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24282455

Saturday 28th September,

Noon, Wigtown Book Festival
Venue: County Buildings Wigtown, Newton Stewart Scotland DG8 9JH

Daily Telegraph review of my session. Complete nonsense to suggest any of the men were shrinking in their seats. But hey – you’ve got to add colour to a report don’t you?

Thursday 3rd October
6.30p.m. City Books Event. Brighton and Hove Sixth Form College, Dyke Road, Hove BN3 6EG
Further info: info@city-books.co.uk
01273 725306

Also on October 3rd:

10 pm. Discussion about the themes of the book on Nightwaves, BBC 3′s arts and ideas programme. The interviewer was Anne McElvoy, who was, as in all my previous encounters with her on radio, in a ‘spatty’ frame of mind. I think she thinks of me as the archetypal progressive lefty comprehensive-education- supporting ‘muesli eating’ feminist whom she needs to challenge at all times. My aim here, as always, is to demonstrate the grace, good humour and gritty combativeness that goes with my kind of politics.(All that muesli eating helps, I reckon…..)

Link to the programme here.

Sunday October 6th

Appearance on Fiona Phillips’ BBC London programme to discuss the book and the question of role models for young women. Below, with Fiona Phillips and Briony Kimmings, actress and playwright.

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Link to programme here; my interview took place over the last half hour of the programme.


Monday October 7th

Guest on The Current, CBC’s breakfast show; discussion with Jen Gerson and Roxanne Gay on the theme of whether Miley Cyrus and Rihanna are empowered or exploited…..


Tuesday 8th October

7pm Blackwell’s Bookshop, Oxford
48-51 Broad Street
Oxford
OX1 3BQ

Thursday 10th October

Evening Event at Toppings Ely
Venue: St Peter’s, Broad St Ely CB7 4BB

further info: ely@toppingbooks.co.uk

Friday 11th October

Lunchtime Key note talk to: the Association of Maintained Girls Schools, London.

2013 AMGS CONFERENCE5

Saturday 12th October

12.30pm Wimbledon Book Festival, with Viv Groskup
1 Archway Mews, 241 Putney Bridge Rd, London SW15 2PE

Tuesday 15th October

7.30pm Off the Shelf Literature Festival, Sheffield
for further details: Tel 0114 273 4716/0114 273 4400


Thursday 17th October

Event with Stella Creasy MP at Royal Society of the Arts on ‘What Should We Tell OUr Daughters?’

You can listen to the podcast here.
This is a full recording including audience Q and A.

Tuesday 22nd October

Evening Event with Newham Books and Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman.
Venue: Wanstead Library

Wednesday 30th October

Lady English Lecture
Melissa Benn: ‘What should we tell our daughters? Equality and feminism in the 21st century’.

Hosted by:

St Hilda’s College
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 – 17:30
Jacqueline du Pré Music Building
Oxford

You can watch the video of the lecture here.


Saturday 16th November

2.30pm Chorleywood Bookshop Festival

With The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman

More details here: http://www.cwlitfest.org/events.html

Sunday 24th November

3.30pm Folkestone Book Festival

Wednesday 27th November

Bristol Festival of Ideas, Watershed. 6.30 pm

(sold out)


Sunday 1st December

Cambridge Winter Wordfest with Alison Wolf, author of The XX Factor. Venue and time TBC

more details: Cambridge Wordfest, 7 Downing Place, Cambridge CB2 3EL
T: 01223 515335

(sold out)


I shall also be doing a number of talks and debates in early 2014 – in Cardiff, the Lake District, Plymouth, East London among many places – to mark publication of the paperback of ‘Daughters.’ Details will appear on this website soon.

Last month I attended a fascinating discussion about the Finnish school system by Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons, an account of how Finland created one of the most successful school systems in the world. In this brief extract from Pasi’s talk, he explains how, in order to create a high quality universal system, the Finns had, first, to abolish private and selective education, which created an unacceptable gap in achievement. This then prompted me to ask a question……… read on.

Over the last eight months, I have been taking the arguments in my book School Wars around the country, talking to parents, teachers, heads in maintained schools: local authority leaders; private, grammar, academy and faith school heads and staff; and many students. I have learned an enormous amount from these discussions about the strengths and divides of our current system and the impact that Coalition policy is having on our schools.

Last week the New Statesman published my edited diary style account of some of these discussions. There is so much I had to miss out…never mind. This gives readers a flavour….

I debate selection and streaming with Katherine Birbalsingh on the BBC. Listen here if you are interested. Go straight to Chapter 6.


Upcoming event

‘Government education reforms will lead to a lack of accountability and greater inequality’, Melissa Benn will say at the forthcoming ‘School Wars’ debate.

The debate takes place in Islington on Thursday 9 February and is being organised by the National Education Trust, the leading education charity. It will be led by Melissa Benn, author of ‘School Wars’, with responses from Sally Coates, Principal of Burlington Danes Academy and Roy Blatchford, Founding Director of the National Education Trust.

The event will be chaired by Fiona Millar.

Melissa Benn commented:

‘Michael Gove has set a revolution in train, in the name of radical improvement of state education. But nothing is quite as it seems with the Coalition’s school reforms.  

In the name of autonomy and freedom, the government has gathered to itself unprecedented powers. Local authorities are being drained of funds and key powers, only to be replaced by democratically unaccountable providers, including the powerful educational chains.

Grammar schools are set to expand even though the correlation between selection and inequality is now well proven.

My fear? A return to a version of the failed 1944 settlement, this time via the market not the state’. 

Roy Blatchford, Founding Director of the National Education Trust, said:

The National Education Trust has for some time been a leading platform for critical debate about today’s key education issues, so we are delighted to be staging this timely event.

I look forward to hearing – and perhaps challenging – Melissa Benn’s version of ‘market versus state’.

Notes for Editors

The media are invited to attend School Wars at New North Community School and Children’s Centre, 32 Popham Road, London N1 8SJ on Thursday 9 February (1.00-4.00pm). Please use the contact details below to book a place.

The National Education Trust is an independent charitable foundation dedicated to 
the promotion and sharing of excellent practice and innovation in education. More information can be found on our website: http://www.nationaleducationtrust.net
 
To book a place, contact events@nationaleducatipontrust.net or book online:

http://www.nationaleducationtrust.net/events_BookOnline.php

Ends

I will be hosting a fundraising evening on December 1st in aid of the Maya Centre, which provides therapy to low income women. The evening will feature some of our finest writers – Jill Dawson, Margaret Drabble, Helen Simpson and Sarah Waters – reading from their short story collections. Tickets selling fast. Please come along.

Some of the events I will be doing over the next few weeks and months.

September 21, 2011 / The Court Room, Glaziers Hall
Melissa Benn: Comprehensive School Education – Policy Mistake, Lost Ideal or Model for the Future?
Part of the University of Leicester ‘The Floor is Yours’ debate series

September 25, 2011 / Dartington Hall
Melissa Benn: How to respond to inequality
Interrogate! festival 2011

September 27, 2011 / Watershed Media Centre
Melissa Benn: School Wars
A Festival of Ideas event

October 11, 2011 / London Review bookshop
Melissa Benn: School Wars
“This a passionate but well made argument for universal public education to promote every child’s chances—not just for them, but for us.” Will Hutton

October 13, 2011 / Wanstead Library
School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education
Melissa Benn in conversation with Michael Rosen

October 14, 2011 / Ilkley Playhouse Wharfeside
The Battle for Britain’s Education: Melissa Benn
Ilkley Literature Festival

October 16
, 2011 / Imperial Square
Melissa Benn: The Great Education Debate at Times Cheltenham Literature Festival
With Chris Healy, Anthony Seldon & Toby Young

November 10, 2011 / Pages of Hackney bookshop
Pages presents School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education
Melissa Benn at Pages in conversation with Gareth Evans

November 29, 2011 / Bishopsgate Insitute
Melissa Benn: Whose mind is it anyway? Influencing young minds
With John White (Institute of Education), Andy Thornton (Citizenship Foundation) & Frank Furedi

I will also be taking part in debates, and doing signings, at a number of literary festivals – including Richmond, Glasgow and Bath – and at the Labour Party and Liberal Democrat conferences.

Please check this website and the Verso website for more details.

Read Melissa Benn’s latest pieces on the web. Further comment on ‘bigotgate’ in Public Finance, and a piece on one of Burma’s most celebrated activists, the poet and comedian Zarganar, recently sentenced to thirty five years for criticising the government’s handling of cyclone Nargis in 2008, on the Guardian’s Liberty Central section of Comment is Free.

Two excellent pieces today on separate aspects of the election campaign. Francis Gilbert has written a cogent piece on Comment is Free on why Tory policies for schools will spell disaster for our education system. In the main paper Natasha Walter analyses the deeper reasons for the absence of women from the front line of politics.

There are many reasons, of course, for the shift in modern politics, away from a collegiate/cabinet emphasis to a more Presidential style of party leadership but the set piece TV debates have only accelerated this trend. 2010′s election campaign has been structured entirely around the Thursday debates, and associated briefings and endless analysis. This means, as many have observed during this singularly depressing campaign, that the only women who seem to count are the glamorous loyal wives whom, it is hinted, will be able moderate their husband’s excesses and weaknesses in traditional medieval court style. The power beyond the throne: yes indeed; nothing to do with democracy. As for the elected women, they are nowhere to be seen. Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party, is occasionally glimpsed in her bright red coat ( much good it does her) standing at the edge of some media scrum or apparently pushed to the edge of a platform.I have glimpsed the top of her head at least three times on television in the last week; they don’t even bother to show her face. Of course, the main media players are only interested in the main political players. There’s a few women in there, but not many.

As for Tory policies on education, they will be an unmitigated disaster. If schools can select their own pupils, secure their own funding and float away from struggling schools in their neighbourhood – the independent school model, unwritten by the state this time – inequality will only intensify. The Tory claim to want to tackle poverty and inequality is disingenuous; if anything proves it, it is their education policy.


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