Guardian article

The Ghost Road

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,

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‘Any chance of some proposals fit for the 21st century?’

Below – a post I have written on the Local Schools Network today on the implications of Gove’s new O-level style proposals:

What with the GCSE regrading fiasco and the row over the selling off of state school sports fields, Michael Gove clearly needed a quick political fix – and some positive publicity – this autumn. And he has got it – if from all the wrong people.
Meanwhile, the nation’s hard-working pupils – many of them now embarking on GCSE courses that the government has more or less officially rubbished – deserve far more than these ill-thought-through changes,

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Beyond the Gove universe…

Below, my latest piece in Guardian education…..
Michael Russell, cabinet secretary for education in the SNP government, who declared himself ‘stunned’ at recently announced English plans to allow unqualified teachers into classrooms. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod
Last week, a British education minister spoke eloquently of the necessity of a highly qualified teaching profession, free university learning and the vital importance of public education as a “societal, not just an individual, good”.
No, Michael Gove has not had a radical change of heart over the summer break.

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Why are we following the US into a schools policy disaster?

It is amazing how quickly you can discourage a nation. Just 18 months ago, Michael Gove kicked off his controversial tenure at the Department for Education with apparently definitive claims, backed by international test evidence, of UK state school failure and the need for a radical new approach.
Last year, Sweden was the model for reform. The government barely mentions Sweden these days, not since it emerged that its free schools produce marginally improved results, but increased social segregation.

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Some more debate……

Some of my recent articles, largely debating the issues that arise out of School Wars.
New Statesman: round up of left thinkers’ views on the riots and family values
Prospect magazine: debate with Rachel Wolf, director of the New Schools Network, on the merits or otherwise of free schools.
Financial Times: commentary on Toby Young piece on the free school he has set up in West London.
Guardian piece on recent riots: and further debate on the issues in the main paper and in G2

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Britain’s Education Divide

Below, a link to my G2 cover feature on Britain’s continuing education divide, which promoted some lively comments on the twittersphere yesterday. 99% of the tweets were positive but there were some odd criticisms, in every sense, that I plan to address in a post over the next day or so.
In the meantime, I have joined Twitter, finally, so you can follow me on @Melissa_Benn.

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The Miller’s Tale

The opening sentence of Jane Miller’s new book is stark. “I am old and I feel and look old.” In person, however, she seems anything but. As we saunter along Kings Road in London, she in her light grey Converse trainers and short black coat, I am struck by how raffishly youthful she appears. A deft emailer with a razor-sharp mind and an unusual openness to life’s more uncomfortable truths, Miller, now 77, swims every morning in her local pool and is currently reading War and Peace for the third time,

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