Like many others who have been at 'Socialism 2011' this weekend, I have returned home enthused by the discussion and debate at this annual event hosted by the Socialist Party in London.
I had the opportunity to lead the discussion on 'Comprehensive Education Under Attack' - which had a great turnout - with literally not a spare seat in the room - ranging from retired teachers to young unemployed Jarrow marchers.
There were some important contributions made, including a report from Ipswich where it seems a new Academy run by a Swedish edu-business has already told staff that the TUPE-transferred sickness arrangements are being scrapped and a report from a student teacher who talked of the marked contrast between the experiences that students are bringing back from their school placements.
Those students that are returning from community schools report the usual life and energy in a London comprehensive. But those returning from Academies often talk of a grim regimented atmosphere with one reporting students having to chant a 'mantra' every morning before lessons. This is, of course, exactly what Melissa Benn discusses in her book 'School Wars' (see post in October 2011 for my review of the book http://electmartin1.blogspot.com/2011/10/school-wars-by-melissa-benn-review.html ).
If anyone is interested in a copy of the handout that I produced for the session, do send me an email.