Synopses & Reviews
tells the story of the struggle for Britain’s education system. Established during the 1960s and based on the progressive ideal of good schools for all, the comprehensive system has over the past decades come under sustained attack from successive governments.
From the poorest comprehensives to the most well-resourced independent schools, School Wars takes a forensic look at the inequalities of our current system, the damaging impact of spending cuts, the rise of “free schools” and the growth of the private sector in education. Melissa Benn explores, too, the dangerous example of US education reform, where privatization, punitive accountability and the rise of charter schools have intensified social, economic and ethnic divisions.
The policies of successive British governments have been muddled and confused, but one thing is clear: that the relentless application of market principles signals a fundamental shift from the ideal of quality education as a public good, to education as market-controlled commodity. Benn ends by outlining some key principles for restoring strong educational values within a fair, non-selective public education system.
The story of the struggle for Britain’s schools, and a passionate call for education as a public good.
Since the 1960s, Britain’s politicians have been promising equal educational opportunities for all but consistently failing to deliver. Now, with the rise of academies and free schools, new forms of inequality and discord afflict the nation’s classrooms. The Coalition Government is further fragmenting and privatising the nation’s school system, making a mockery of their claims to promote social mobility.
In this coruscating analysis of the games politicians play with our children’s futures, Melissa Benn puts forward a genuinely comprehensive vision and points the way to restoring the educational values of equity and excellence.
Inand#160;Education under Siege, Peter Mortimore considers the UK education system as it is and as it might be. Concluding that the United Kingdom has some of the best teachers in the world but one of the most muddled systems, Mortimore proposes radical changes to help all British schools become good schools. He argues that the government should outlaw selection practices, integrate private schools into the state system, and establish processes to ensure that each school has effective teachers and a fair balance of students who learn easily and those who do not. In a concluding call to action, he asks readers who share his concerns to demand that politicians alter the course of education policy.
About the Author
Melissa Benn is a journalist, novelist and campaigner. She has written for the Guardian, the New Statesman, Public Finance, Cosmopolitan and the London Review of Books, among many others. Her writing on education includes Education and Democracy, co-edited with Clyde Chitty, and A Comprehensive Future: Quality and Equality for All Our Children, written with Fiona Millar. A regular broadcaster and speaker, she is a founder member of the Local Schools Network, set up to support local schools and to counter media misinformation about their achievements and the challenges they face. In spring 2012 she won the Fred and Anne Jarvis award in recognition of her outstanding individual contribution for a fairer education system.
Table of Contents
List of tables
List of abbreviations
About the author
1 What is education?
2 Desirable outcomes
3 Intellectual ability
7 Quality control
11 How good is the system?
12 A better system?
13 Stepsand#160; toward a better system
14 What next?