Writings

School Wars: new edition published…

If you didn’t catch it the first time, you might be interested now? School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education The story of the struggle for Britain’s schools, and a passionate call for education as a public good. School Wars tells the story of the struggle for Britain’s education system. Established during the 1960s and… Continue reading…

Is sixteen too young to vote?

Since my younger daughter, who is just 16, started A-level politics this autumn, every evening meal has been dominated by a spirited discussion on subjects as various as responsible capitalism (do I really believe in such a foolish, contradictory thing?) to the merits, or otherwise, of an unwritten constitution. Unsurprising, then, that yesterday morning, over… Continue reading…

‘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… Continue reading…

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… Continue reading…

How to for-give……

Below a recent review of a remarkable book by a remarkable woman, that appeared in the Guardian: If You Sit Very Still by Marian Partington Some years ago, while making a Radio 4 series on forgiveness in private and public life, I interviewed an apple-cheeked woman of impeccable middle-class stock. Everyone who trooped through the… Continue reading…

The question of private schools

Last month I attended a fascinating discussion about the Finnish school system by Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons, an account of how Finland created one of the most successful school systems in the world. In this brief extract from Pasi’s talk, he explains how, in order to create a high quality universal system, the… Continue reading…

Why there has never been equality in the English school system…..

Here is an edited version of a speech I recently gave on educational equality at the Goldsmiths conference on Teaching and Learning, Future Tense. Graphics are courtesy of my creative and often hilarious colleague, Francis Gilbert. Continue reading…

School Wars – the road trip.

Over the last eight months, I have been taking the arguments in my book School Wars around the country, talking to parents, teachers, heads in maintained schools: local authority leaders; private, grammar, academy and faith school heads and staff; and many students. I have learned an enormous amount from these discussions about the strengths and… Continue reading…

Should we stream our children?

I debate selection and streaming with Katherine Birbalsingh on the BBC. Listen here if you are interested. Go straight to Chapter 6. Continue reading…

A few thoughts on the conflict between happiness and achievement….

Over the past couple of weeks i Have been reading and listening to some of the new Happiness Gurus. Last weekend The Guardian gave away Happier, a slim, aggressively yellow book by Tal Ben-Shahar ; this morning, I watched a TEDX speech on line given by an American psychologist, Shawn Anchor, who really should be… Continue reading…