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20 May 2009

Education feature

Don't close our schools!

Do not close our schools: Medway schools protest, photo Jacqui Berry

Do not close our schools: Medway schools protest, photo Jacqui Berry

OVER 200 parents and children held a very loud, colourful protest outside Medway council cabinet meeting against the closure of three local schools, St John's Infants, Ridge Meadow Primary and St Peter's Infants.

Jacqui Berry and Dave Berrie

The campaigns attracted wide support from all sections of the community - as well as from New Labour activists, desperate to score political points against the Tory-run council.

St John's parent Louise Dunn told The Socialist: "It's a really good school, plus no other schools have the room.... We are the people that should have a say on this issue, not them."

Do not close our schools: Medway schools protest, photo Jacqui Berry

Do not close our schools: Medway schools protest, photo Jacqui Berry

While the population is growing and school places are already in high demand, it seems crazy to close schools. As well as planning to close three schools, Medway council proposes 16 amalgamations.

"Part of their long-term vision for education is to create super-schools for 3-11 year olds and 11-19s. I don't think being in massive institutions with much older kids is good for my kid's development, but they are cheaper to run and easier to privatise," said Stacy Wilson, whose child also goes to St John's.

The council will no doubt continue to try and push through these plans despite smaller classes and schools being proved more effective for a child's education.

Stacy also said: "What's sad is that so far we have not been able to join forces with parents fighting to save Ridge Meadow and St Peter's. We have a better chance of keeping our schools open if we unite."


Do not close our schools: Medway schools protest, photo Jacqui Berry

Do not close our schools: Medway schools protest, photo Jacqui Berry

The parents have been actively campaigning against the proposed cuts. Petitions, leaflets, meetings, and the successful protest have raised awareness on the issue throughout Medway.

Although they are not yet united, they are determined and not ready to give in.

All over the country, local authorities are trying to cut costs and clear their debts by passing the bill onto our children. Parents, teachers, school support staff and community campaigners will be forced into action. Another St John's parent, Sonya Tencome sent a clear message to others confronted with the prospect of a school closure: "Fight back until they listen!"

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