Socialist Worker

Barnet students get shirty over big rise in tuition fees

by Mark L Thomas
Issue No. 2229

Barnet students protesting against education cuts

Barnet students protesting against education cuts

School, college and university students across Britain are joining the resistance against education cuts.

One of the best protests took place in Barnet, north London, on Thursday of last week. Hundreds of school, college and sixth form students marched on the local Tory Party HQ in Finchley chanting, “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!”

Barnet council is run by Tories who think that the budget airline Easyjet is a model for local services. The local Finchley MP is also a Tory. Margaret Thatcher was the MP for Finchley for 33 years.

The fury at Tory plans to drive the poor out of education was palpable as the students took to the streets.


A cacophony of whistles mingled with chants. School students sang, “We all need an education, we all want to get degrees” to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”.

One homemade placard denounced Tory education secretary Michael Gove as a “miserable pipsqueak”.

Another read, “Don’t cut our future” and a large banner proclaimed, “They ripped the shirts off our backs”.

A student at the head of the march waved a large, home made red flag.

Alex Clayman, 16, addressed the students with a megaphone saying, “Rich people support the cuts. One protest isn’t enough. We needs loads more, one in every borough—this is just the first.” It was a sentiment that was widely echoed.

Amy Hetherington and Amy Matthews, who both attend Barnet College, told Socialist Worker, “Everything’s for the rich.”

Their friend Adeo Ferndandez, from Southgate College, said, “I’m going to uni next year. Higher fees will make it much more difficult. Other students need to have protests like this.”


Trade unionists from the GMB, Unison and the local trades council provided stewards for the march after the police got wind of it. Local Labour councillors also addressed the students.

Alex, who initiated the protest, told Socialist Worker, “I organised the demo because I don’t want to pay £9,000 in fees.”

He started a petition and used Facebook to advertise the protest. The word spread across the different schools and colleges in the borough as the momentum built.

The students handed in their petition—but were not satisfied that this expressed their full contempt at the assault on education.

So, taking inspiration from the “They ripped the shirts off our backs” banner, they symbolically threw shirts onto the concourse outside Finchley Conservative Association.

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