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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2008

No more school closures!

EDUCATION IS under attack. 30,000 children could lose their rural schools in the first stage of the government's new closure plans. Campaigners are worried that more than a thousand small schools in England and Wales could in the longer term be threatened with closing.
This is one of the ruinous effects of the 'market' on education. In cities and towns as well as villages, every time a school's number of pupils goes below a certain level, many local councils talk of closure. Whatever happened to Labour's supposed commitment to smaller class sizes? Why not use the opportunity of declining school rolls to bring down the size of classes?
Socialist Party members Jim Reekie and Jake Moore report on the angry response in Shropshire to these threats.

ON 23 January, Shropshire's local authority announced plans to close 22 rural primary schools with another 16 earmarked for merger. Many individual school campaigns are already underway against these attacks.

They will demonstrate together outside the council's offices before the councillors' cabinet meeting.

The county council claims that all those schools in Shropshire with 92 pupils or more would be deemed 'viable'.

Local Tory councillor Ann Hartley claimed that other schools would close, based upon falling pupil numbers and that this was the "only option".

But these are village schools that have been there for years, serve the local community and many are in fact over-subscribed.

These plans will further undermine communities, some of which have already lost local post offices and hospitals.

Days after the county council's decision, Shropshire Socialist Party was out campaigning and petitioning against these planned attacks. Our petition against this market-style madness struck a chord with Saturday shoppers.

The mood was one of outrage that schools would be closing because of a lack of funding. One worried parent summed it up appropriately: "The three main parties are now all the same. They're all happy to spend billions on wars, then there's no money for our services such as education and hospitals."

A united campaign must now be built across the 22 affected schools and beyond. With the correct strategy in opposition there is potential to take on the government's local and national plans to cut education further.

We also argued the need for a new workers' party that would stand for public services and against cuts, closures and privatisation.

These school campaigns, alongside those against cuts and privatisation in other public services, can help play a role in forging a new mass worker's party in the future.

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In The Socialist 30 January 2008:

End this market madness

No more school closures!


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