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It is not often a committed advocate of comprehensive education is invited to address one of the country’s leading independent schools. But after a robust exchange at a conference between myself and the head of Westminster school, Patrick Derham, I was asked to speak to his students. Derham is one of a handful of independent school heads who grasps that something needs to change, though not quite in the way I am about to suggest to his students.
The 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
Nice try, Nicky. Despite official efforts to bury the bad news of the government’s major volte face on forced academisation under rolling election coverage, Morgan’s climbdown late last week has been widely publicised and celebrated by what had turned into a formidable array of opponents stretching right across the political spectrum. In the end, Morgan dared not defy a handful of powerful Tory backbenchers or shire leaders – according to one, the government had simply ‘gone bonkers’ –
Marina Cantacuzino is telling me a story about two women, both of whom discovered that their partners were having affairs. For the first one – let’s call her Woman A – the infidelity, says Cantacuzino, “was seen as the act of ultimate betrayal, which not only ended her marriage but for the past 30 years has been the defining, obsessional, story of her life.” As a result, her children, whom she had roped into the bitter,
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