Lecture looks to the future of education
Melissa, co-founder of the Local Schools Network, writer, journalist and campaigner, spoke at the annual event, held in recognition of the City of Leeds Training College's first female Vice-Principal, and feminist, Winifred Mercier, on Wednesday 6 March.
Melissa spelt out some of the reforms which are set to transform education and improve the learning for disadvantaged children: a priority for many who work in state education.
Melissa shared her views on the revolution taking place within education. She believes that a comprehensive vision for the 21st century needs to be put in place with re-pledged support for publicly-funded, publicly accountable education. Melissa's vision involves more thoughtful and vigorous approaches to the teaching profession itself, from selection to training and continuous professional development.
Professor Lori Beckett, The Winifred Mercier Professor of Teacher Education at our University, said: "The annual Winifred Mercier public lectures are an established institution at Leeds Met during the week of International Women's Day. These lectures, delivered by prominent critical-feminist scholars of teaching and teacher education, provoke critical discussion and debate about current policies and practices. These reflections on the return to school-based teacher training and performance-related pay, directed by such distinguished scholars as Melissa Benn, are vital lessons for policy-makers and politicians to learn from those in the profession."
Melissa Benn is a regular contributor to the Guardian. She has published several books, including her latest, 'School Wars: the Battle for Britain's Education', and was nominated for the Waterstones New Writer of the Year award at the 2008 British Book Awards. Recently she has spoken around the country on both the immediate question of Coalition education policy and on alternatives to the current market-led vision of our national education system.
Instituted in 2007, the annual lecture commemorates the life and work of Winifred Mercier who, from 1913 to 1915, was Vice-Principal at the former City of Leeds Training College. Greatly respected for her intellect and passion, Winifred was not afraid to engage in public policy debates and ask questions of the government of the day. A first-wave feminist, she encouraged her contemporaries to consider society as it was and as it could be, and deliberate on the role and function of education in building the social world.