Upcoming And Recent Events


Some spring/early summer events………

Festival of Ideas – UK Education: Is it fair and fit for purpose?

Lecture 7:00 PM Tue, 21 Jun 2016
Venue St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

What sort of education do we want for our children? Do we have an effective education system? Does it give all our children a fair start in life? Or does it reinforce privilege? How can we offer equality of opportunity? These are just some of the questions our distinguished speakers will address in this opening debate of the Festival of Ideas.

Patrick Derham has been Head Master of Westminster School since September 2014. He co-edited Liberating Learning: Widening Participation with Michael Worton (2010) and Cultural Olympians with John Taylor (2013) and is the editor of the forthcoming Loyal Dissent (2016).

Melissa Benn, educated at Holland Park School and the London School of Economics, is a full time writer and journalist. She is an outspoken campaigner for high quality comprehensive education and has written extensively on education matters.

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Michael Rosen’s Writers and Teachers’ Conference 2nd July

9.30-4pm at Goldsmiths,University of London, UK

Top writers and teachers are coming together to work out how to teach writing effectively in schools; join them!

Professor Michael Rosen – one of the UK’s most popular writers for children – and the Goldsmiths, University of London Department of Educational Studies are bringing teachers together with some of the best writers in their fields for a free conference on Saturday 2 July.

Michael and other Goldsmiths tutors have invited news journalists, feature writers, columnists, historians, creative writers and writer-teachers to help teachers develop their approaches to teaching writing in all subject areas.

The conference has some of the leading practitioners in their fields. There is the historian Keith Flett, science and news writer for the Times Tom Whipple, literary journalist Fiona Wilson, feature writer Melissa Benn, prize-winning novelist Ardu Vakil and Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, Helen Lewis.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/michael-rosens-writers-and-teachers-conference-at-goldsmiths-2nd-july-tickets-21003899228

Past events this year

Tuesday February 2nd, House of Commons 6.30-7.30pm.

‘Fair School Admissions: Are Lotteries the Answer?’

Discussion of school admissions put on by the Young Fabians with Melissa Benn ( chair of Comprehensive Future), Nic Dakin MP and Jonathan Simons of Policy Exchange. Details here


Saturday February 6th 1.30pm Lancaster University

As part of the Festival of Questions, Melissa Benn chairs a discussion on ‘Inequality: Are We Really ‘In It’ Together,’ with David Kynaston, Lynsey Hanley and Shiv Malik.

Details here

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Reports on recent events

Tuesday January 19th saw the launch of ‘The Truth About Our Schools: Exposing the myths, exploring the evidence’ at Goldsmiths College, London. You can read about the launch event here and read the text of Melissa Benn’s lecture on the book here

Below the four founder members of the Local Schools Network – Melissa Benn, Fiona Millar, Henry Stewart and Francis Gilbert – in the Q and A session after the lecture.

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Daunt Books in Chelsea was packed on the evening of November 25th, for a discussion between Melissa Benn and Katherine Angel on the writings of Vivien Gornick.

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On the 1st of December 2015 The Maya Centre was proud to host a special showing followed by an illustrious panel discussion of Daughters of de Beauvo
ir, a documentary film looking at the influence the French writer Simone de Beauvoir ‘s work and unconventional lifestyle have had on women throughout the world.

Her life story, with all its conflicting emotion and experience, is told in parallel with the stories of the women appearing in the film, all of whom cite Simone de Beauvoir as a major force in their lives, in the year that marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of her best-known book, The Second Sex.

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Melissa Benn, author, campaigner and long standing Patron of the Maya Centre led a sparkling discussion of the film, the ideas, and the lasting impact of de Beauvoir’s writing and life with the film maker, Imogen Sutton, the Professor and Founder-Director of the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education Ann Oakley, who had been interviewed in the film, one of our new Patrons, best-selling author Jill Dawson, and distinguished author Dame Margaret Drabble.

Much-thumbed copies of de Beauvoir’s works were produced by panel members, who shared their experiences of the impact of this ground-breaking writer on their own lives and work. Simone de Beauvoir broke taboos, in the conventional middle class Paris of the 1950s writing about sex and menstruation, living openly with her lover Jean-Paul Sartre, and later talking openly about her illegal abortion. She was brilliant, articulate and honest in her writing about women’s position in society and her own life in a series of autobiographical writings which still resonate now.

Panel members ranged over the mother-daughter relationship, French culture and icons, the controversy of the relationship between de Beauvoir and Sartre and whether, despite her deep feminist thinking even she did not find a relationship of true equality. Her writing about ageing and death sparked much discussion as well, though acknowledging that it can be hard to face the realities about which she writes so unflinchingly.

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Some events from 2015:

House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Melissa Benn will chair the Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture to be delivered this year by Professor Susan Robertson of Bristol University.

The lecture will be at 6pm at the House of Commons on Tuesday November 10th.

It is a free event but please book your place by emailing socialisteducation@virginmedia.com.

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12th November 6pm – 7:45pm
Performance Space, Manchester Central Library
St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD

Melissa will be taking part in a debate on ‘Is education failing our economy?’ in the Performance Space in Manchester Central Library.

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18th November 7:30pm – 10:30pm
The Salusbury Rooms
103 Salusbury Road, London NW6 6RG

Refugee Crisis: Salusbury World Response & ‘Friends’ Launch

To share Salusbury World’s work with refugee children and families within the context of the current crisis. Speakers include Melissa Benn and Dr Basel Chamali. Refreshments provided.

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21st November 11am – 3:30pm
Parker Morris Hall, Abbey Community Centre
34 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BU

Comprehensive Future Conference – Selection – the growing threat.

Many speakers including Melissa Benn, Fiona Millar, Caroline Lucas MP, Jonathon Simons (Policy Exchange), Becky Allen Education Datalab, headteachers and parents. An opportunity to discuss the campaign’s next steps.

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25th November 7pm
Daunt Books
158 – 164 Fulham Road, London SW10 9PR

Melissa Benn, Katherine Angel and Lauren Elkin will take part in an evening of readings from, and conversation about, Vivien Gornick.


26th November 6:30pm
Lecture Theatre A, University Place
University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL

Melissa Benn will be in conversation with film maker Amir Amirani at a special showing of his celebrated film We Are Many.

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