Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Melissa's battle for Britain's education

Melissa Benn is a woman who has devoted a great deal of time to acting against the current school system, which she deems ‘unequal’ and a means of maintaining class divisions.

Melissa set out five main aims to improve British education:

1. providing all children with general education until the age of 16, and not splitting them into tier groups until late adolescence;
2. mixing academic and cultural studies to discourage social divisions;
3. encouraging children of different social classes, races and religions to attend school together;
4. having schools invest on necessities;
5. making the government a key contributor in education.

The starting point of School Wars is the tripartite system set in place by the 1944 Education Act. Pupils were selected, on the basis of the 11-plus exam, for admission to grammar schools, technical schools, or secondary moderns.

Melissa explained that grammar schools were intended to provide a ladder for the poor to climb. In fact they also produced numerous failing students, and parents revolted against a test which branded their children as ‘failures’ at the age of 11.

Now Education minister Michael Gove claims that the introduction of academies and free schools will diversify education but, according to Melissa, he supports the old methods of dividing schools by social class.

In a nutshell, Melissa emphasised her desire to create a non-selective education system run by the government, with professional and experienced staff teaching broadened syllabi nationwide.

Maryam Sameja

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