Our education system has been damaged by politicians who have arrogantly imposed a regime of market-driven reforms. It is time to reframe education as an essential public good, one arising from a hunger to find more engaging ways to learn and the powerful imperative to make our society genuinely equal.
In this timely and provocative essay, Melissa Benn argues for a National Education Service. Like the NHS, the NES would provide the framework for a life-long entitlement to education: from early-years provision to apprenticeships, universities and adult education. It should be free at the point of delivery. It should nurture teachers and scholarship, moving beyond an obsession with exam results to create fully rounded, questioning citizens. Its eventual aim should be an integrated, comprehensive system available to all.
“Life Lessons is an eloquent and much needed blueprint for a more equitable education system at a time when radical ideas are in short supply.”
“When we see what’s going wrong in education, we need people like Melissa Benn to give us signposts for what else is possible. As a lifelong campaigner for a fair and equitable education system, she shows she is the ideal person to map out a progressive agenda for education in the future. With an overloaded curriculum, relentless testing and increased selection, this book is a timely appeal for a rational and democratic education service.”
“Invaluable in providing education activists with the tools to move debates on Labour education policies forward … A very readable book, to be thoroughly recommended.”
“Captures the spirit of the progressive education movement as it exists today, and reflects its current grievances and priorities … will be warmly welcomed by all those who believe our education system is broken and needs radical transformation.”
“Benn is not only an outstanding campaigner but she’s also a brilliant writer. What I loved about her book is the mixture of radicalism and pragmatism; Benn presents solutions to the many problems facing parents, pupils and teachers today. This book is an essential argument for an equal and fair education system, and a vital contribution to our National Education Service, one of Labour’s flagship policy proposals.”