7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
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About the Event

Is the current UK education system fit and fair for purpose? For an in-depth look at what’s happening in our schools join writer and campaigner Melissa Benn (Life Lessons: The Case for a National Education Service), social historian David Kynaston (Engines of Privilege: Britain’s Private School Problem) and education and diversity consultant Dr Karamat Iqbal for a lively and rigorous debate. Chaired by award-winning journalist Louise Tickle.

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About the Authors

Melissa Benn is a journalist, novelist and campaigner. She has written for the Guardian, the New StatesmanPublic FinanceCosmopolitan and the London Review of Books, among many others. Her writing on education includes School Wars: the Battle for Britain’s Education and A Comprehensive Future: Quality and Equality for All Our Children, written with Fiona Millar. In spring 2012 she won the Fred and Anne Jarvis award in recognition of her outstanding individual contribution for a fairer education system. She is also the author of What Shall we Tell Our Daughters? and the novel One of Us.

David Kynaston was born in Aldershot in 1951. He has been a professional historian since 1973 and has written eighteen books, including The City of London (1994-2001), a widely acclaimed four-volume history, and WG’s Birthday Party, an account of the Gentleman v. Players match at Lord’s in July 1898. He is the author of Austerity Britain 1945-51 and Family Britain 1951-57, the first two titles in a series of books covering the history of post-war Britain (1945-1979) under the collective title ‘Tales of a New Jerusalem’. He is currently a visiting professor at Kingston University.

Dr Karamat Iqbal has worked in equalities and education over the past 40 years. During the 1970s he was active in the early developments of services for ethnic minority young people and adults. During this period, he pioneered Multicultural Education courses for public sector professionals. He was also active in promoting cohesion and understanding between different ethnic groups. Upon qualifying as a teacher he joined the Birmingham Multicultural Support Service. He then worked as a Community Relations Officer (Education) for Wolverhampton Race Equality Council. In his next role, for 13 years, he was the Deputy Director: Equal Rights and Opportunities Management Unit at a post-16 Community College which was seen as a ‘Centre for Excellence’ in equalities. Karamat has had a longstanding commitment to improving education of disadvantaged young people. He ‘championed’ the educational needs of White Working Class children as evidenced by his work being used as the main text for debate in Parliament. Karamat authored the book Dear Birmingham: a conversation with My Hometown, in order to draw attention to exclusion of Pakistanis from opportunities and centres of power. He has also published a number of articles on education and equalities. He is a regular blogger, including for the consultancy Optimus Education. Based on his doctoral research, Karamat has contributed a chapter: Creating Coherence in Education for British Muslim Pupils  for the newly published book by Jenny Berglund: European Perspectives on Islamic Education and Public Schooling.


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.’  MICHAEL ROSEN, AUTHOR OF GOOD IDEAS, ON LIFE LESSONS: THE CASE FOR A NATIONAL EDUCATION SERVICE