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(en) Britain, Freedom* November 2011 - EDUCATING WHO ABOUT WHAT

Date Mon, 26 Dec 2011 15:41:46 +0200

School pupils discover direct action ---- The politicisation of the younger generation is escalating as school pupils across the country are recognising their ability to take collective action. As the economic certainties of the austerity measures begin to have a direct impact on those with most to lose, schools are increasingly becoming a focus for more militant action. ---- Along with the big student demonstrations – the November 9th national day of action was intended amongst other things to encourage school pupils in a mass walkout as a show of solidarity with students and workers in education – those schools that are no longer ‘profitable’ and at risk of closure are now part of a growing movement of dissent against the cuts to education. ---- In September Shropshire council made its final decision to close Wakeman School and Arts College, Shrewsbury, a fortnight after it achieved its best ever GCSE results.

The Conservative-controlled authority said it was due to the school’s “financial sustainability”, rather than its standard of education. It is the only secondary school in Shropshire affected by the cuts, and the only one located in the town centre, and is by far the largest school on the council’s closure list.

As a response pupils from the arts college, who have been actively campaigning against its closure since February, took action outside the council cabinet meeting, some even donning white overalls. This kind of student-led action is becoming more common place.

Pupils at Blackheath Bluecoat, Greenwich, staged a silent protest on October 10th against the proposed closure of their school, during a council staff visit. Gillian Palmer, Greenwich council’s director of children’s services who has approved the move, was met by a line of pupils who stood silently holding banners and placards as she entered the school.

There were angrier scenes the following day as parents confronted Palmer at a public meeting about the closure. Parents refused to be split into smaller groups shouting “Together we stand” with one parent receiving huge applause when she shouted “You’ve got a fight on your hands. If you want a fight you’ve got one.”

The school in South London is destined to close in 2013 after a report presented to the council stated it was over £1m in debt and “unsustainable” in the present economic climate. Blackheath Bluecoat was the school Stephen Lawrence was studying at when he was murdered by a racist gang.

In Nottingham as many as sixty pupils held regular protests, largely organised by two twelve year old pupils, against the closure of Gedling School, which continued throughout the year, although the school has now been saved after private sponsors came forward to turn it into an academy school.

These actions are just an indicator of the level of anger being expressed by the next generation who, having never had the luxury of a private education, are seeing their opportunity at a decent education being sold off.
* Anarchist journal
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