Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Newcastle: uprising of school and college students takes over the toon

Report by Tony Dowling

Up to 2000 school, college and university students from across the North East descended on Grey’s Monument in Newcastle today, as they joined the nationwide protests against the ConDem’s education cuts and the raising of tuition fees.

“Nick Clegg, shame on you… shame on you for turning blue!” chanted the students as their numbers quickly swelled to fill the assembly point – and this even before the university students had begun to join them – and an improvised march took place around Gallowgate to ease the congestion.

“Classes warned over joining fees rally,” cautioned the local press. But by midday there were over 1000 school and college students and it was clear the students’ anger at the cuts to education funding had overcome any fear of reprimands.

“The whole school’s out,” declared Lauren Kennedy from Heaton Manor School in Newcastle. “The teachers asked for a show of hands & when nearly everyone’s went up they let us go. And our headteacher’s come along to the protest too!”

Students from as far away as Haydon Bridge in Northumberland were alongside those from Gateshead and Newcastle schools and colleges. And around a hundred students arrived from Queen Elizabeth High School in rural Hexham.

“Dumbledore wouldn’t let this happen,” read Jemima Proudlock’s handwritten placard. And her friend Charlie Smith joined the ‘Harry Potter’ theme with “This wouldn’t happen at Hogwarts.”

The demonstration continued to grow and Newcastle College student Dean Grainger enthusiastically led the crowds in a chant of “They say cut back; we say fight back” as they marched off along Northumberland Street towards Newcastle Civic Centre - 2000 Newcastle Council workers face losing their jobs - to protest noisily at the LibDem council.

Many then joined the university students at a ‘teach-in’ later in the afternoon. Others protested in Eldon Square, the city's main shopping centre. A new movement was born on the streets today.


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