Socialist Worker

Students hold protests at schools in solidarity with Palestine

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2756

Young people have been at the forefront of protests for Palestine

Young people have been at the forefront of protests for Palestine (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Students in schools and colleges in several parts of Britain have protested in solidarity with Palestinians facing Israeli terror.

As break ended on Wednesday at Clapton Girls' school in east London, students sat down and chanted “Free Palestine”. They refused to return to lessons.

Clapton Girls student Mina told Socialist Worker, “They were peaceful protests with students sitting on the floor with Palestinian flags to make a statement to the school about human rights.

“Teachers in the school had told students that they had been antisemitic which was not the case at all, as supporting Palestine for these students was a means of standing up for Palestinians' human rights.

“Students were appalled as the school claimed that Palestine flags were 'political' and that they had no choice but to condemn the students’ actions.

“Clapton Girls' Academy and sixth form need to address the Palestine situation immediately.”

A teacher at the school, told Socialist Worker, “I expected them to stay out for ten or maybe 15 minutes, but they were there for the whole day, until the end of school.”

He said that the school is split into two separate buildings by year group but protests happened at both.

The teacher added, “The pupils were very vocal and loud, they had homemade signs and gave educational speeches, it was fantastic. Many pupils linked Palestine to Black Lives Matter and broader issues.

“They made badges and posters. I haven't seen anything like this since students walked out over the Iraq war two decades ago.”

March

On Tuesday management closed Loreto College in Manchester after hearing about a planned protest. Students assembled at the college gates and decided to march.

Around 200 students waved flags, painted faces and held flares as members of the public joined the march. Around 250 people gathered at the march endpoint in Piccadilly Gardens holding signs such as “Stop arming Israel”.

Another protest on Tuesday at Coombe girls school in Kingston, south London, was broken up by the headteacher.

Students at Batley Grammar School, West Yorkshire, have organised a protest for Thursday at 8.45am. St John Fisher Academy in Dewsbury pupils are protesting after school on Friday.

Other pupils are trying to launch similar initiatives but are being set back by the school management.

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One student based in Redditch, Worcestershire, told Socialist Worker, “My school announced in a virtual assembly that if anyone is openly pro-Palestine or protests for the freedom of Palestine on school grounds, they can’t attend prom, and they can’t go to sixth form next year.

“I was very disappointed as I’ve always thought highly of my school. I also feel that my school has done a huge disservice to Muslim students.

“The Israeli state has been vandalising sacred mosques and ethnically cleansing Muslim Palestinians. You can’t be neutral and threaten students to also stay neutral at the expense of their post-16 education.”

A pupil based in London tweeted, “We're trying to put Free Palestine posters everywhere, and we're trying to protest, but the school is saying no."

The Palestinian resistance has inspired millions of people internationally. Students standing up despite pressure from education management should inspire more students and workers to follow them.

For video of Clapton Girls' school protest go to www.tiktok.com/@whathappenedx/video/6964015081529134341

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