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Lewisham school children set to join student walk-out on national “day of action” against cuts

Photo: Michael Northcott

School children in Lewisham are planning to join a nationwide student walk-out on Wednesday, as part of a further wave of protests against coalition government plans to cut funding for education.

Goldsmiths, University of London will again be the centre of attention within the borough. The college is the designated meeting point for students taking part in the walk-out, with various groups assembling at 11.30am.

Earlier this month, Goldsmiths lecturers spoke out in support of the mass student demonstration, which saw up to 50,000 young people march through Whitehall and the Conservative HQ occupied and vandalised.

Campaigners hope Wednesday’s walk-out will be the next step in a burgeoning student movement that is dedicated to opposing cuts.

Pupils of Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College, New Cross, will be taking part. They have organised via a Facebook group started by Jack, a 15-year-old pupil who made a statement to the Guardian on Friday.

“The teachers should be proud of us, we’re standing up for our right to higher education, and we feel really strongly about it. I don’t know if they’ll take any action to stop us. I think it’s against the law to walk out of school, but we’re fighting for education so that might make them feel differently” he said.

A source close to the demonstration’s organisers confirmed that at least two other schools from the borough would be in attendance, but was reluctant to give exact details for fear that teachers might try to stop their pupils from taking part.

Secondary and sixth form pupils from the John Rowan School in Greenwich will also be joining the marchers at Goldsmiths. A teacher from the school and member of the Greenwich branch of the National Union of Teachers, Kirstie Paton, was outspoken in her support.

“The staff are proud that students are standing up for education. The cuts are an attack on students and a general attack on education.”

She also explained that she and fellow colleagues would be joining the protest after school by attending a rally at Downing Street scheduled for 6pm on Wednesday, before concluding “it’s a very exciting and unifying experience.”

Des Freedman, secretary of Goldsmiths’ branch of University and College Union, confirmed that a rally in support of the walk-out would be held at 1pm outside of the college.

Elsewhere along the East London Line, a representative of Queen Mary University UCU released a statement in support of Wednesday’s planned actions. “We hope that this marks the beginning of a sustained defence of public services and welfare provision as well as higher education,” the statement read.

On Wednesday, the student walk-out begins at 11am at Goldsmiths. Students will then move to Trafalgar Square for midday before beginning a day of action that includes protests at Parliament Square and outside the Liberal Democrat offices in Cowley Street, along with a rally at Downing Street.

A further event will be held on Thursday at 6.30pm in the Great Hall at Goldsmiths, featuring speeches by veteran activist and leading socialist Tony Benn, amongst others.

To see more coverage from ELL of the student protests, follow the links below

Goldsmiths lecturers union urge not to ‘scapegoat’ students over protest amid fresh calls for action

Downing Street attacks “irresponsible” Goldsmiths lecturers union for backing student occupation

NUS/UCU ‘Fund our Future’ Demonstration

Gallery: more pictures from the protests

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