Socialist Worker

Students locked out of Villiers High School for supporting teacher

Issue No. 2238

School students at Villiers High School in Southall, west London, were locked out of their school today, Wednesday.

The headteacher, Juliet Strang, told students in years 10 and 11 not to come to school—and police officers at the gates prevented those who did turn up from entering the school.

The lock-out follows mass protests and a strike by hundreds of students against the sacking of NUT union rep and head of Maths, Amerjit Virdee yesterday.

“I tried to get into school today—that’s why I’ve got my uniform on,” one student told Socialist Worker. “But they had police there to tell us ‘no’. So now I’m trying to go to school but I’m not allowed? It’s crazy.”

Another added, “Yesterday was big. They’re trying to stop us doing it again. But what about our rights? We have a right to protest if we want to.”

Students said that the head had also told them not to come to school tomorrow. They said they had gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition against the sacking of Amerjit—including students and parents—but that the head had confiscated it.

Teachers at the school struck against management bullying in December and have called strikes for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, after a breakdown in terms of an Acas.

Students say they support the teachers’ action. “This is not a learning environment,” said one. “We’ve got exams in a month, yet we’ve lost our head of maths and aren’t allowed in the school!”

Others spoke of teachers who had been bullied and said that the head teacher had changed lunch and break times to try and stop students gathering together. “She wants to make it hard to protest,” said one. “But she should leave.”

As one student put it: “If they don’t want us to protest then they shouldn’t sack him.”

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