Socialist Worker

London education protest: ‘I teach in a classroom that used to be a corridor’

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2211

Hundreds of parents, children and teachers joined a rally and protest in central London on Monday of this week against education secretary Michael Gove’s school rebuilding cuts.

Josie, a support worker at Manor Foundation School in Sandwell, West Midlands, was there. Gove originally said her school was safe – only to reveal later that its rebuild was cut.

“I teach in a classroom that used to be a corridor,” she told Socialist Worker.

“The carpet is mouldy and it’s damp.

“The buildings leak. The windows don’t open in a lot of rooms. The heating is unreliable and toilets don’t flush.

“Piles of books and resources are destroyed as the rain leaks in. It’s such a waste.”

Cara, another support worker at the school, was also at the protest. “We can’t put drawing pins in the walls because of the asbestos,” she said.

“When the building is tatty, nobody feels any pride in anything or that they’re worth anything. It has a knock-on effect on the students.”

Many of those on the protest talked of the emotional impact of the cuts on children. Steve Harrison teaches in a secondary school in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. Gove cancelled some of the rebuilding work at his school.

“The children feel a sense of loss,” he said. “Part of our school burnt down and this will still be rebuilt. But the main teaching block won’t be.

“It was built in 1964 and is unfit for use.

“We spent thousands of pounds and hours planning and researching the rebuilding – then overnight we’re told it’s not going to happen.”

Steve was “shocked but not surprised” at the cuts. “The Tories made their intentions clear from day one,” he said.

“They want to get rid of the whole infrastructure of the welfare state.”

Peg, a governor at a secondary school in Newham, east London, said, “Our rebuild was due to start in January but has been cut. We were so close.

“The school is about 40 years old – it was never intended to last this long.

“The window frames are rotting and the roofs leak.

“I’d like Michael Gove to go to every school and be handed over to parents and children so they can make their feelings about his cuts clear.”

The protest was called by the teaching unions, and also backed by the Ucatt construction union and the Anti Academies Alliance.

A 300-strong protest against education cuts also took place in Portsmouth on the same day last week.

Gove’s cuts are an attack on working class children. They have sparked fury – and shown the potential to build mass campaigns against the Tories.

See also Schoolchildren join march on parliament against education cuts


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Tue 20 Jul 2010, 18:40 BST
Issue No. 2211
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