More than 100 Brighton school children go on "strike" over proposed changes to education

More than 100 Brighton school children go on

More than 100 Brighton school children go on "strike" over proposed changes to education

First published in News by

Wednesday saw hundreds of teachers across Brighton and Hove take industrial action over changes imposed by the government. Yesterday – true to their word – more than 100 pupils did the same. Reporter Ben James spent the morning with them at Churchill Square Shopping Centre.

More than 100 students bunked off school yesterday in protest against proposed changes to their education.

Youngsters from Varndean, Dorothy Stringer, Blatchington Mill, Cardinal Newman and Patcham High, gathered outside Churchill Square Shopping Centre from 10am.

The majority of year nine and ten pupils chanted, sang, banged drums and danced while their morning lessons went on without them.

While some may have been taking advantage of the Facebook organised event to get the day off school, others spoke at length of their fears for the future of their education.

Scarlet-Luna Clementson, 13, said she wanted to “stand up for student’s rights”.

The Varndean pupil added: “I don’t want to be ignored anymore. I don’t think it is fair and Michael Gove can get away with all of this.

“I think we need to stand up for what we believe in. He wants to lengthen our school day and shorten the holiday and it should not be happening.

“He has made year 11 study for an exam they aren’t even taking – it’s just a waste of their education which he’s supposedly trying to improve.

“I think it is ridiculous. If everyone else has the right to strike then so should we.”

Plans for the action appeared on Facebook last week.

Reacting to the then upcoming plans for the national NUT teacher’s strike, the organisers called on fellow pupils across the city to meet up for the protest.

The main issue on most students’ lips was the potential for longer school days and shorter holidays.

Academies, which have been pushed by secretary of state Michael Gove and the Coalition, have the flexibility to alter the standard school day and time off.

Pupils claim more time in lessons would not only prevent them socialising with friends and family but also have a negative outcome on their grades due to being overworked.

Among the other changes that angered students was a change to the requirements for entry to college.

While before they needed just five A* to C grades at GCSE, they are set to require eight.

Olivia Yeandle, 14, from Blatchington Mill, said: “It is going to be very difficult for some to get those grades which will prevent them from going further.

“I think it is stupid how you have to get a certain grade to be able to do something with your life.

“It’s a case of if you don’t get the right grades at school then you can’t go anywhere or do anything.

“It’s so stupid how they reduce people’s abilities to grades and numbers.”

Armed with a mega-phone and drum, the youngsters directed most of their anger at Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The contingent of youngsters all wore their uniforms to represent the different city schools taking part.

However, usual rules were relaxed slightly with some choosing to wear their ties around their heads.

They told how they felt “powerless” to alter decisions being made – despite being the ones they are imposed on.

Varndean student Luke Hopkins, 15, had taken the day off with his younger brother Ewan, 13.

He said: “They haven’t asked what we think, we haven’t had a say in any of this.

“I just want those who make the decisions to give us a chance to be heard. They should listen to what we say and take it onboard.

“We have the experience, we are going through this day in day out. People like Gove have grown up with different things to us. He has had a different upbringing so he doesn’t know what he is on about.”

Year nine pupil Ewan added: “The policies they enforce are not affecting them. They are affecting our teachers and students.

“If the teachers can strike we can’t we.”

While some of the youngsters had little to say about Wednesday’s NUT walkout, most backed their teachers and their decision to strike.

Gareth Lewis Williams, 14, from Varndean, said: “I fully support the teachers.

“Teachers don’t want to have to work until they are 68.”

Luke Hopkins added: “This should be an eye-opener for the MPs. This shows we actually have a voice and hopefully they will consult us next time and give us a choice. We have opinions just like anyone else.”

A spokesman for Varndean said they hadn’t experienced a particularly high student absence rate.

He added: “Anyone who wasn’t at school we will deal with in the usually way, that is with an unauthorised absence.

“We have a procedure and an absence management system in place. We will follow that.”

Dorothy Stringer also reported a normal level of absenteeism.

A spokeswoman said: “All those who were off will be dealt with in the usual way with an unauthorised absence. “If there is no reason given, we will contact parents.”

A spokeswoman from Blatchington Mill said staff members were stationed on the school gates to stop pupils leaving this morning. She added they were unaware of any of their pupils at the protest.

Comments (15)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:02am Fri 28 Mar 14

jagiwatch says...

Look at me I'm in the paper!
Look at me I'm in the paper! jagiwatch
  • Score: -3

7:03am Fri 28 Mar 14

rogerthefish says...

So now are we to namby pamby to pupils? Just give them detention for a week and if they don't attend expel them-simple and effective, education is a privilege not a right.
So now are we to namby pamby to pupils? Just give them detention for a week and if they don't attend expel them-simple and effective, education is a privilege not a right. rogerthefish
  • Score: -21

7:04am Fri 28 Mar 14

gazzamagoo says...

"He wants to lengthen our school day and shorten the holiday." Hahaha and there we have it.
"He wants to lengthen our school day and shorten the holiday." Hahaha and there we have it. gazzamagoo
  • Score: -22

7:22am Fri 28 Mar 14

Sir Prised says...

We would have ended up with the strap, both for missing school and looking such a sight ! It's because they are allowed to become so arrogant, that they struggle to fit into the world of work, where everything doesn't revolve around them. It's in this general area of 'co-operating' that education in it's broadest sense of the word, is lamentably failing.
We would have ended up with the strap, both for missing school and looking such a sight ! It's because they are allowed to become so arrogant, that they struggle to fit into the world of work, where everything doesn't revolve around them. It's in this general area of 'co-operating' that education in it's broadest sense of the word, is lamentably failing. Sir Prised
  • Score: -24

8:09am Fri 28 Mar 14

Darcstar says...

It's a shame a lot of the comments here denounce what these pupils have done ! I say Well Done to them ! It is important that people stand up for their beliefs and rights. Most that criticise this would never dare to stand up against injustices, how many of those criticising this have ever protested? ( Which is the equivalent of saying " I have been happy with the way ourcountry is run since my birth " PFFFT !!! Its the usual excuses to hide the personal apathy and fear of speaking out.

In 1985 P.C.C. ( Chalky Road, Mile Oak ) also saw a strike. The teachers were striking and it would mean a dealy of up to 2 months on the exam results being issued to pupils. The whole 5th year was out by morning tea break, and the 3rd & 4th year came out to support us by lunch. We Won, the teachers refused to strike, we got our exam results, and yes we were also in the newspaper and on the radio.

I am so glad these young people are there. They are our future and will be the ones making the positive changes our country needs as opposed to the hate filled ones we are currently getting.
It's a shame a lot of the comments here denounce what these pupils have done ! I say Well Done to them ! It is important that people stand up for their beliefs and rights. Most that criticise this would never dare to stand up against injustices, how many of those criticising this have ever protested? ( Which is the equivalent of saying " I have been happy with the way ourcountry is run since my birth " PFFFT !!! Its the usual excuses to hide the personal apathy and fear of speaking out. In 1985 P.C.C. ( Chalky Road, Mile Oak ) also saw a strike. The teachers were striking and it would mean a dealy of up to 2 months on the exam results being issued to pupils. The whole 5th year was out by morning tea break, and the 3rd & 4th year came out to support us by lunch. We Won, the teachers refused to strike, we got our exam results, and yes we were also in the newspaper and on the radio. I am so glad these young people are there. They are our future and will be the ones making the positive changes our country needs as opposed to the hate filled ones we are currently getting. Darcstar
  • Score: 53

8:19am Fri 28 Mar 14

s&k says...

Why shouldn't young people have a say in what affects them? As for Gove, don't get me started on that little prat.
Why shouldn't young people have a say in what affects them? As for Gove, don't get me started on that little prat. s&k
  • Score: 41

9:01am Fri 28 Mar 14

whatone says...

I guess all those naysayers on here never had a childhood.

I wonder if you have you heard of the phrase "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"? Well you only have to look at those in government to realise the truth of that!

Children should have a chidhood, and that means time out from studying.

All those in power seem to want to do is produce generations of nice little consumers - and they now plan to make a tidy profit doing it too!

Good luck to the children standing up for themselves instead of just becoming more sheeple!
I guess all those naysayers on here never had a childhood. I wonder if you have you heard of the phrase "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"? Well you only have to look at those in government to realise the truth of that! Children should have a chidhood, and that means time out from studying. All those in power seem to want to do is produce generations of nice little consumers - and they now plan to make a tidy profit doing it too! Good luck to the children standing up for themselves instead of just becoming more sheeple! whatone
  • Score: 32

9:22am Fri 28 Mar 14

Morpheus says...

Makes you think that immigration is a good thing after all. This lot are not our future.
Makes you think that immigration is a good thing after all. This lot are not our future. Morpheus
  • Score: -23

9:33am Fri 28 Mar 14

tykemison says...

Morpheus wrote:
Makes you think that immigration is a good thing after all. This lot are not our future.
Ben James reports"if the teachers can strike we can't we"now, even I can see there's a sensational story here, how come no-one at the argus picked up on this being such groundbreaking journalists.......oh
, surely, if the children are not allowed to relieve themselves, this is good enough reason to call off said strike, anyway I am off to the loo.
[quote][p][bold]Morpheus[/bold] wrote: Makes you think that immigration is a good thing after all. This lot are not our future.[/p][/quote]Ben James reports"if the teachers can strike we can't we"now, even I can see there's a sensational story here, how come no-one at the argus picked up on this being such groundbreaking journalists.......oh , surely, if the children are not allowed to relieve themselves, this is good enough reason to call off said strike, anyway I am off to the loo. tykemison
  • Score: -3

12:36pm Fri 28 Mar 14

Stoney33 says...

the majority of people reading this will have done 6 hour school days and had a decent amount of holidays when at school, and in most circumstances will be proof that what these children are saying is correct, theres no reason to lengthen the school day, or make them learn more

However, i imagine this 'protest' was little more than an excuse to bunk off. I do not believe that protesting is an appropriate means of getting a point across at the best of times, and this wasn't even a protest

Hopefully we will see them take a more appropriate route to getting their point across, after they have been grounded for a week
the majority of people reading this will have done 6 hour school days and had a decent amount of holidays when at school, and in most circumstances will be proof that what these children are saying is correct, theres no reason to lengthen the school day, or make them learn more However, i imagine this 'protest' was little more than an excuse to bunk off. I do not believe that protesting is an appropriate means of getting a point across at the best of times, and this wasn't even a protest Hopefully we will see them take a more appropriate route to getting their point across, after they have been grounded for a week Stoney33
  • Score: -2

1:46pm Fri 28 Mar 14

Brighton Living says...

Take the tie off your head, sort out your tights and try and look respectable and maybe just maybe somebody may take you seriously. Until then you will simply look like delinquents.
Take the tie off your head, sort out your tights and try and look respectable and maybe just maybe somebody may take you seriously. Until then you will simply look like delinquents. Brighton Living
  • Score: -6

1:51pm Fri 28 Mar 14

whatone says...

Stoney33 wrote:
the majority of people reading this will have done 6 hour school days and had a decent amount of holidays when at school, and in most circumstances will be proof that what these children are saying is correct, theres no reason to lengthen the school day, or make them learn more

However, i imagine this 'protest' was little more than an excuse to bunk off. I do not believe that protesting is an appropriate means of getting a point across at the best of times, and this wasn't even a protest

Hopefully we will see them take a more appropriate route to getting their point across, after they have been grounded for a week
So what exactly is a 'more appropriate route'?

Most people realise by now that normal channels are closed to anyone who objects to the 'official line'.

Protest is the only way to gain publicity and air grievances.

Would you be commenting on this otherwise?

I bet you'd have 'grounded' the suffragettes too!
[quote][p][bold]Stoney33[/bold] wrote: the majority of people reading this will have done 6 hour school days and had a decent amount of holidays when at school, and in most circumstances will be proof that what these children are saying is correct, theres no reason to lengthen the school day, or make them learn more However, i imagine this 'protest' was little more than an excuse to bunk off. I do not believe that protesting is an appropriate means of getting a point across at the best of times, and this wasn't even a protest Hopefully we will see them take a more appropriate route to getting their point across, after they have been grounded for a week[/p][/quote]So what exactly is a 'more appropriate route'? Most people realise by now that normal channels are closed to anyone who objects to the 'official line'. Protest is the only way to gain publicity and air grievances. Would you be commenting on this otherwise? I bet you'd have 'grounded' the suffragettes too! whatone
  • Score: 13

2:40pm Fri 28 Mar 14

Man of steel says...

Is that the new school uniform, where's George Cole when you need him?
Is that the new school uniform, where's George Cole when you need him? Man of steel
  • Score: 1

6:03pm Fri 28 Mar 14

Steepholm says...

rogerthefish wrote:
So now are we to namby pamby to pupils? Just give them detention for a week and if they don't attend expel them-simple and effective, education is a privilege not a right.
Actually, it is a right - see Article 26 of the Universal Decalaration of Human Rights. http://www.un.org/en
/documents/udhr/
[quote][p][bold]rogerthefish[/bold] wrote: So now are we to namby pamby to pupils? Just give them detention for a week and if they don't attend expel them-simple and effective, education is a privilege not a right.[/p][/quote]Actually, it is a right - see Article 26 of the Universal Decalaration of Human Rights. http://www.un.org/en /documents/udhr/ Steepholm
  • Score: 13

10:34pm Fri 28 Mar 14

ourcoalition says...

Well done to all of them - keeping alive the right to protest - thinking for themselves - if only more adults did the same in the face of the attacks on education, teaching, and all the rest.

I invite them to all turn up at 5.45pm, on Monday, at Hove Park Upper School to help stop the move to an Academy.
Well done to all of them - keeping alive the right to protest - thinking for themselves - if only more adults did the same in the face of the attacks on education, teaching, and all the rest. I invite them to all turn up at 5.45pm, on Monday, at Hove Park Upper School to help stop the move to an Academy. ourcoalition
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree