News

Is Britain still too elitist?

Below, my contribution to a recent discussion in Prospect, reflecting on the publication of a recent report by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.
The big question: Social mobility
Is Britain still too elitist?
A new report states that people educated at Oxbridge have created a “closed shop at the top”
Each week, Prospect asks a range of experts, as well as our readers, to come up with answers to the questions defining the political agenda.

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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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Upcoming events and discussions

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.

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What Should We Tell Our Daughters? – details of autumn publication


What Should We Tell Our Daughters?
By Melissa Benn
Hardback
£25.00
A manifesto for modern womanhood – and a guide through the perils and pitfalls of parenting girls
We have reached a tricky crossroads in modern women’s lives and our collective daughters are bearing the brunt of some intolerable pressures. Although feminism has made great strides forward since our mothers’ and grandmothers’ day, many of the key issues – equality of pay, equality in the home,

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How do we keep our daughters safe, but not controlled?

Five man today appear in court, charged with the rape and murder of a still unnamed medical student on a bus in Delhi at the end of last year. I know I am not alone in continuing to feel haunted by the deep sadism, and even deeper sadnesses, of the Delhi case.. It feels like an act from another moral or temporal world which in many ways it is.
At the same time, there is an uneasy sense of fear and familiarity,

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Of smacking and schools; a story of odd class alliances in British politics.

How depressing that the debate on smacking children, like that of a woman’s right to choose and sex education ( which never seems to go away ) has reared its head once more. I was astonished, and somewhat appalled, to hear a discussion on the Today programme recently about whether poor children were becoming too ‘dependent’ on breakfast clubs. Jill Kirby, a commentator on Conservative Home, argued that schools should find out why families were not providing breakfast for their children and if so,

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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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Draft dodging…….

Just a note to all my loyal blog readers to say that I am currently ( early 2011) immersed in writing a book – provisionally entitled: School Wars; the Battle for Britain’s Education – to be published by Verso later this year, and so will not be posting until the first draft is finished in early/mid February. At this critical stage of creation, working on my blog, or indeed any other kind of writing,

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