Why we walked out

Submitted by Matthew on 8 December, 2010 - 10:51

"On 20 October, when the spending review was announced, there was a negative attitude in our Sixth Form common room. People were beginning to realise that the next five years weren't going to be easy. The scrapping of EMA, which helps many students at our Sixth Form, was not greeted kindly, especially after the Conservatives had previously promised to keep it. However there was a much greater sense of anger towards Liberal Democrats who were supporting these ruthless cuts that they had once so passionately opposed. We felt majorly let down. Why did we deserve these cuts? We weren't the bankers who got us into this mess. I knew that this negative attitude and anger could be turned into something positive. It was clear that we had to do something. When I heard about the day of action on 24 November I knew we had to get involved. I decided to arrange a walkout at 11am. The idea was met with massive support. All but a handful of the Sixth Form took part in the walkout. Banners and Placards were made and the press were informed. After a brief rally in the common room, we left the school at eleven and walked down the main road near the school together. We were met by the police and stopped but a small group gathered outside our local MP's office. After the event there was a huge sense of achievement, We had gained a lot of publicity and most importantly had managed to have our say and take part in a massively important nationwide event."

Harry Sinclair-Waugh, North Leamington School

"It all started when a leaflet was handed around school. Somebody had heard from the National Coalition Against Fees and Cuts about a National Day of Action. Most of the students didn’t know what this meant. Why were we walking out? When told about the disgusting cuts and what would happen if we didn’t fight for our futures, the entire school was bursting with conversations and general outrage at the Conservative and Lib Dem Government.

We held a few meetings to get the walkout organised. The first meeting we had was relatively small, but many ideas were discussed. By the second meeting our campaign had grown much wider and there were more people, but different people from those who were at the first meeting. By Tuesday night we were all biting our fingers, wondering how many we’d actually get walking out, whether there’d be enough of us to march into the city centre.

"At 11 o’clock Wednesday morning, there was no doubt in our heads about this walkout, the school was bustling with people walking about who should have been in lessons. Over 800 pupils walked out, virtually closing the school down. Following this we walked from our school to Roundhay High school to meet with more students from their school. Our massive group of high-school students then walked the two miles into the city centre to meet up with the university students and continue with the protest, and to occupy Leeds university. Our march must have been an amazing sight to those we passed, many of whom honked their horns or cheered at us as we passed. On Tuesday [30 Nov] we hope to, once again, walk out and show our anger at these vicious cuts. In the future we believe that it would be a good idea to do other things in protest, for example in school protests, strike-action or protests on the weekends, as constantly walking out would run dry after a while. Know that whatever you, the people, decide to do to fight these cuts, the students, be they high-school, college or university students, will always back you! Look at the example us students have set. If we can do it, then why can’t you?"

Liam Murphy, Seyamak Shaghouei, Alex Claxton-Mayer, Allerton Grange, Leeds

"The last protest [November 24] was a success. We had a presence in Whitehall, near Parliament and near government buildings. MPs will have seen us on their way to work! We showed how passionate and angry we are and we showed that we're not going to roll over or walk away. We made it clear that we would organise more action, which is why we're here today [Tuesday November 30]. As for the violence, I think that smashing up a police van isn't really a terrible act of violence. It's not worse than kettling, which is an absolute joke. I think if the movement carries on we're going to need regular meetings, maybe in each college or across London-wide. The most important thing is that we keep the pressure up."

Yusuf, Westminster Kingsway College

"Around 50 students from Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham took the train to Newcastle to join protestors fighting against the scrapping of EMA, the cuts to Higher Education and the near-tripling of university tuition fees on Wednesday 24 November. At Hexham train station they were photographed and some students were interviewed by the local newspaper, the Hexham Courant. In the run-up to this day of action the school stated to all parents that it could not authorise the walkout, but neither could it prevent students from protesting, and many of the teachers tacitly or explicitly expressed their support. However, they insisted that students could not gather at the front of school due to ‘health and safety’ concerns. Another national day of action on the 30th will see more students along with samba drummers from QEHS joining the demonstration. Students are now planning to start an anti-cuts group with regular meetings in Hexham to discuss the cuts and how to take action against them. A meeting with Conservative MP Guy Opperman is timetabled."

Will Lloyd, Queen Elizabeth High School

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