Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1098/31212
Student protests force government retreat
Reports from just some of the campaign actions which the Socialist Party and Young Socialists took part in...
Around 100 students joined the Young Socialists protest outside Downing Street on 15 August. Whenever speakers compared this government's failure of a generation to its bail-outs for big business, they got a huge cheer.
One student who told us about her downgrades added it wasn't just about her. This was an attack on all working-class young people.
Deji, a young worker and Socialist Party member from Birmingham, said: "There's no reason why a student in Eton should get boosted while a student in Peckham gets their marks downgraded.
It's class warfare in the classroom." Amnon, a computer programmer, explained the problem with algorithms: "Computers can't think. They are programmed by humans. Garbage in, garbage out."
Students also mentioned the mental health crisis, as vital support services have been axed. Young Socialists pointed out that many working-class people grow up in overcrowded houses, and libraries have been closed by both Tory and Labour councils. So where exactly are young people meant to go to study?
Finally, Young Socialists warned that even if protests win a U-turn on exams - as they now have - the education system is still not fit for purpose. It's been privatised and marketised by both Labour and Tory governments.
Sidney Stringer Academy is a school in Coventry, the city where the exam regulator Ofqual is based. This year, 60% of teacher-predicted grades at Sidney Stringer were marked down by Ofqual's algorithm.
The head, teachers and students jointly held a protest to call on the government and Ofqual to address this.
Roughly 150 people attended and heard stories of students who've seen all of their predicted grades marked down, some by two grades.
Over 200 angry school students, parents and teachers gathered outside the Welsh Senedd (parliament). A-Level exams were cancelled this year as schools were closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
As a speaker from the National Education Union said, this is an exceptional year, and warrants exceptional measures!
But rather than trusting the professional judgement of teachers, the 'Welsh Labour' government followed the lead of the Tories in Westminster.
It employed an algorithm to penalise students in historically lower-performing schools.
Socialist Party member John Williams spoke at the rally on behalf of the Young Socialists and got an excellent reception.
John pointed out the hypocrisy of Keir Starmer claiming to support teacher-estimated grades, while the Labour-controlled Senedd, did the opposite.
Such an energetic protest. The working-class students were rightfully very angry with the Tories. They questioned the education system and why their postcode meant they couldn't aim to get to high-achieving universities. Our Young Socialists stall had such a great reception.
There was engagement with Young Socialists campaign stalls across Yorkshire from young people wanting to stop the unfair downgrading of results.
One student in Hull explained many of her friends had been disappointed by their results and were uncertain whether they would be able to go to university.
We cannot allow working-class youth to bear the brunt of Covid-19, and will continue to fight for a better education system.
Our young members were out on results day, 13 August, fighting against capitalist politicians and uni bosses stealing the future of working-class youth. Don't fail the class of Covid! Fight for public ownership and socialist planning of education, jobs, housing and health!
Strong support from students and the public for our campaign stall on 14 August against the scandal of the A-level results.
In The Socialist 19 August 2020:
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