Keeping faith in comprehensives

Below, a profile/interview in today’s Education Guardian by Peter Wilby.

Taking advantage of the net, and net democracy, I have put in a few corrections and some commentary at the bottom of the piece. Perhaps the Guardian or other newspapers might try this, in print and on line, sometime?

Keeping faith in comprehensives

Melissa Benn still believes the public can see the benefits of the classic comprehensive school system

Education has the potential to create a “common culture” according to Melissa Benn.

Britain doesn’t have many American-style political dynasties, but the Benns are an exception. Three generations have produced a cabinet minister apiece: Tony Benn, once the stuff of bourgeois nightmares but now an octogenarian “national treasure”, is the best-known and his son Hilary, a New Labour minister from 2001, is the most recent. And from the next generation, Emily Benn, Tony’s granddaughter, stood unsuccessfully, aged 20, as a Labour candidate in last year’s general election. Continue reading Keeping faith in comprehensives

Follow me on Twitter


I am a reluctant convert – but my publishers ordered me onto the twittersphere in preparation for publication. But already, I am finding it a really useful source of information and an interesting forum for a certain kind of debate. Good for literacy skills too!

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

School Wars: upcoming events

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.

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.