The campaigner Melissa Benn is the winner of this years Fred & Anne Jarvis Award in acknowledgment of her work as a tireless champion for the cause of comprehensive education.
In the last few years, Melissa has been a prominent and outspoken critic of the privatisation of our schools, not least when the Coalition government forced through its Academies Act. Melissa’s recent book School Wars echoes our concerns about the influence of US education policy on our own Government, and the lessons that should be learnt from the Free Schools experiment in Sweden. In the nominations for this award the book was rightly described as rational, well-informed and passionate.
Melissa Benn said: ”I am delighted and honoured to have been chosen to receive this year’s Fred and Anne Jarvis award. The struggle to create, and sustain, a well resourced comprehensive education system in this country is a long and honourable one, of which I am proud to have been a part. However, as so many of you will know, comprehensive education is under attack as never before.
“By writing my book School Wars – and then taking the arguments out to parents, teachers, and communities around the country – I have tried to both inform, and persuade others, that there is, indeed, an alternative to current policy. Contrary to much government rhetoric, Coalition reforms risk increasing inequalities between pupils and communities, and demoralising the heads, teachers and support staff that are at the heart of our school system.
“Thank you for recognising the small part that I have tried to play – as a parent, writer and campaigner – in the creation of a more genuinely fair, free and progressive education system.”
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “I’m delighted that Melissa Benn, a vital voice on the education stage, is this years winner. Melissa can always be relied upon to make a persuasive and powerful case for so many values that are close to the NUTs own heart. Indeed, her Good Local School for Every Child pamphlet shares a name with one of the union’s long-standing campaigns. I wish her every success in the fight ahead to protect good local schools for every child and every community.”