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Academy pupils in show of solidarity

Reporter: Lewis Jones
Date online: 25 November 2010

MORE than 100 chanting teenagers staged a walkout at the Oasis Academy yesterday in protest against the Government’s plans to cut education spending.

Angry Year-11s braved the bitter cold to display their placards reading “Degrees Not Fees” and “Education is a Right” as they circled the school fields in a display of solidarity.

The frustrated pupils united to rally against the decision to scrap the Educational Maintenance Grant (EMA), of up to £30 a week, paid out to 16 to 19-year-olds who choose to stay on in education.

“Give us our money back,” sang some of the pupils, who will be affected by the cut next year.

Saskia Janicki (16), who organised the walkout, said: “In this area, £30 a week makes a lot of difference and it could put people off staying on at college.

“I’m so proud of the turnout. This shows that young people are not apathetic and we have a voice.

“People feel strongly that cutting EMA is one of the worst things to scrap as support for bus fares and equipment will not be there.”

Classmate Chad Timmins said: “I want to go to OIdham Sixth Form next year and I would have got the full £30.

“I’ve got two brothers and a sister so it’s difficult for my mum to pay for all of our needs.

“I don’t think the Government is thinking about young people — especially those who are thinking of university.

“Facing a debt of up to £50,000 will segregate communities.”

Pupils held their banners high as they marched together at the former South Chadderton School to also oppose planned rises in tuition fees.

The crowd joined thousands of students up and down the country in the backlash against the education reforms, on the same day as a sea of protesters swept into London. Pupils said they felt betrayed by a switch in opinion from some Liberal Democrats who had campaigned against tuition fee rises prior to this year’s general election.

Tyler Dobbs, (16), said: “I persuaded my grandad to vote for the Lib-Dems, and I think they should go back to what they promised. Education is a right not a fee.”

Fellow pupil Alex Bollard, from Moston, said: “People say you should protest once in your life. Well, this is ours. It was quite amazing.”

Staff watched as the pupils shunned lessons to take a stance.

Head teacher John Alder said: “I’m proud that our students are aware of what is happening and are taking an interest in their futures. I agree with their concerns. I know how helpful EMA has been in encouraging people to stay on in education, and its cut will have a devastating impact on lots of families.”


So the headmaster is proud to see his pupil walk out of lessons they are so keen to be paid to attend later. Why didn't they do their protesting at the weekend instead iof a school day ?

Good for them!

morgana60 @ Seeing as the Conservatives and Lib-dems are so eager to cut EMA and increase tuition fees Will they never be done until they have scrapped education for the working class and sent them back into the mines and cotton mills. And the headmaster is proud of US as we stood up for our rights and education and the right to learn AND on that day specifically as you'll find hundreds of students all over the country were protesting for our rights and for the next generations rights.

OH NO, the poor kids are loosing the cigarette and beer money.... GOOD might keep them off the streets drinking and swearing. might get some peace of an evening now!

@Chubb, well for a start the mines and mills are gone. Just who are the working class you say the Cons and Lib Dems are after? What right do you have to a post 18 education? Absolutely none whatsoever. To Saskia and Chad, get part time jobs to support yourself if your parents are struggling. Is it anyone's fault but theirs if they don't value you enough to support you through your A levels?

Just where does Chad get the figure of £50,000 from?. Pie in the sky rubbish. Stop bleating.

I hope these young people will come up to Saddleworth if there is a by-election and let the Lib Dems know what they think of them - peacefully of course.

@bungle. your comment is an absolute joke i was in that protest and alot of the students actually needed the EMA for good reasons, a majority of them needed it for transport to and from the college of there choice and to save the rest up for uni fees so just because i little group of people use there EMA for cigarettes and booze dont start accusing everyone else who needs it cause there are acually people who really need it to further on there education. So immature.

My son goes to Oasis Academy, the kids are only standing up for what they beleive in, why do some people think that all kids of around 15/16 all drink and smoke and cause trouble. A lot of nice kids go to Oasis and do want to do well in school, NOT ALL OF THEM want to drink and smoke and i am SICK of people thinking all teenages are the same. If some people gave them a chance they would find they are really nice kids from decent homes ............

There are those who take part for valid and honest reasons and those who just go along for the 'fun' and like trouble to occur - these are not usually bona-fide students but agitators. I wonder, however, how many of those complaining about the students actually benefited from loan-free grants? Indeed, how many who moan ever went on to higher education and if they did not then what do they know about what most decent students actually do and how they get by? Anyone can stereotype others. Be fair!

Considering that Labour introduced tuition fees despite stating in their manifesto to oppose them and "we will introduce legislation to prevent them" and then going totally against them it's rich to hear them whinging.

As for tuition fees I wonder how many of those protesting know the propsals are to increase from £15k to £22k the threshold at which you start to pay £1.75 a week back.

As usual, the magical "everyone else" is expected to pay for everything. You want services, you have to pay.

It's as Oscar Wilde said:
"Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope."
We can find the beautiful meaning- we are the voice. If we were silenced; how would anything be heard? Tell me. David Cameron never had to pay for university tution fees- what makes us the exception? Your apathy concerns me.

Pro Driver,Bungle, The £50,000 figure could be the possible new debt if you wanted to attend a GOOD university with the new reforms. Second of all most school children are actually good people, and the bunch who arent generally grow up to be biggoted, narrow minded peole like yourselves.I would like to see yourselves cope with the demands of a FULL TIME college course, bnevermind a job aswell. E.M.A is put to good use by most people. Should one bad apple spoil the whole bunch?

So ProDriver you want to know where they get the figure of 50k from well let me explain approc 4k per term x 3 yrs for a degree plus accomodation fees work it out for yourself mate. As for you comments about EMA & it being the parents own faults that they are struggling. Kindly explain your comment pls, have you seen the headlines lately about unemployment and the recession.

denise & james I am with you. Not all Teenagers stand on street corners smoking and drinking. Both my children are at college and both need EMA to help me to meet my budget I work full time as did my husband until last year when suddenly becoming ill caused him to lose his job. We are now struggling to cope to pay a mortgage and household bills which we dont get paid for by anyone but us so the £20 per week helps enormously for fares etc. So ProDriver is that our fault??

Our Protest may not of seemed much, but we're fighting for the future, you failed to protect.

I think these individuals should be applauded for showing some of the older generation what they are sadly lacking.
The right in a free and fair democratic society to partake in peaceful protest against the injustice of being unfairly saddled with vast debts for most of their lives just because they seek to educate themselves.

I hope they take up the invitation of the Saddleworth Tories,sorry... LibDems...you know I don't see a difference?,and ask them why MrClegg blatantly lied on tuition fees

JoshJW94 - your protest might not have seemed much but your spelling needs attention and you need to understand the difference between the words OF and HAVE. It is not...of seemed much. It is....have seemed much.

This is one of the most frequent errors made by pupils in schools.

I have become accustomed to nonsense being written by ProDriver, but his/her contribution here is really the lowest of the low.

H/she's obviously a Historian knowing that the mines (thanks to Thatcher and her Tory government) and mills are no longer, and the comment about not being valued by parents is totally and utterly despicable, and an apology would not be out of order.

Whoever this person is is clearly a cossetted one who has never wanted for anything!

Deanmo- Im pretty sure that josh's spelling was spot on, in fact it was his GRAMMAR that was incorrect. That is if we are being picky of course.

How could you comment on somebody's grammar, when you yourself are unable to use correct grammar, there should be a comma inbetween the words 'much' and 'but'.

This is one of the most frequent errors made by a bigot just like yourself.

The general standard of spelling and grammar is poor and should be a cause for concern. The school children would do well to get into the habit of consulting a dictionary, particularly those who aspire to higher education.

On the contrary,ProDriver,I value my offspring very much; so much, in fact, that I am filled with abject horror at the thought of them embarking on their working life with a personal debt in excess of anything I have managed to accrue in 30 years of employment.These students cannot vote; they have no voice politically, and are being made to pay the price for the mismanagement of the country's affairs by those in whom their elders put their trust when casting their votes.That is why they protest.


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