Posts Tagged ‘schoolkids’

Global Climate Strike – 2019

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Two years ago, Friday 20 September 2019 saw Earth Day Global Climate Strike protests around the world inspired by Greta Thunberg. Many thousands came to the events in Central London, packing out quite a length of Millbank in the morning, but there were others around Westminster who didn’t quite get down to the rally, as well as local events in other parts of London.

The school kids get it, but even two years later it is quite clear that our government really doesn’t, though is happy to pay lip-service. The world is going to change and unless we act urgently it will change very much for the worse so far as human life is concerned.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released in August 2021 makes the severity of our position clear, and floods and fires this year in countries across the world have underlined the need for urgent action to change our way of life.

Yet a few days ago, the government yet again confirmed its support for airport expansion and another runway at Heathrow, and is still backing oil exploration in our coastal waters, as well as a new coal mine, still subsidising gas-fired power stations and encouraging wood-burning which is causing large-scale environmental devastation in forests as well as churning out carbon dioxide and still failing to put the investment needed into green policies and green jobs.

It’s hard to believe the stupidity of our government, something only increased by reshuffles, particular when they promote people who have obviously failed. But most governments around the world are driven by short-term political considerations and by the interests of the rich and powerful, and this latter is perhaps nowhere more paramount than in the UK, where as well as the interests of huge companies and their bosses we also have the interests of the establishment and Crown and the City of London.


The late Duke of Westminster who died in 2016 once told a reporter from the Financial Times who asked what advice he would give to a young entrepreneur who wanted to succeed. His reply “Make sure they have an ancestor who was a very close friend of William the Conqueror” is usually reported as being a joke, but certainly contains a great deal of truth. Britain is still very much owned and run for and by those who profited from that occupation, enacting laws which stole the land from the people. 955 years later we are still occupied.

After managing to extract myself from the crowded rally I went to pay brief visits to Climate Strike events elsewhere. The Elephant & Castle was a quick trip on the underground, and I photographed a march starting from there before jumping back on the tube to Brixton.

Children from Brixton primary schools were at a lunchtime rally in Windrush Square, and when that finished some were intending to travel into central London to join the main protest. I rushed away as the rally ended to get back too, and found a largish group of secondary school students joining activists who were already sitting down to block Whitehall. When they got up and began to march away, police stopped them – and after a while they came back and blocked Whitehall again. Eventually they got up and marched back towards Parliament Square.

Protests were still continuing with much of Westminster at a standstill when I left for an unrelated protest in Carnaby Street (yes it’s still there, though it really belongs to the Sixties) by pro-Palestine activists in front of the Puma store there. The say Puma whitewashes Israel’s war crimes by sponsoring the apartheid Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land, a war crime under international law.

Carnaby St Puma Boycott
Global Climate Strike Protest continues
Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike
Global Climate Strike Rally

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Kids march for more school

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Whatever is wrong with modern children? I just cannot imagine myself at primary school protesting at getting an extra half-day off school. We would have cheered.

Of course parents are likely to be upset. Having to find some way to look after their offspring on a Friday afternoon when in most families both parents will be at work. It must be bad enough having to make arrangements for the school holidays without this extra burden,

While I was teaching we did get the occasional day where school closed and we were sent home early, and I think we were generally rather pleased, particularly if it was a day when we were down to teach 3G last period. Though I suppose we might have got a little concerned if it were happening on a regular basis, and particularly for some of the classes who were nearing their GCSE or A level exams – and I think there were some times when these exam classes remained for lessons when others left early.

But now of course we have exams at every level, the dreaded SATs, starting in the May of Year 2, when children are only 7. Some schools add to the training in terror by making them take ‘optional SATs’ at the end of every year there isn’t a real SAT test (the next one comes for 11 year olds in Year 6.)

And teachers, particularly head teachers, are of course concerned about the results, as they place their school in the league tables. So concerned that although they only take place for a short period the SATs have come to dominate the whole year’s work in most of our schools. Schools that want to be seen as successful have had to change their whole ethos to “teach for the tests.” It shouldn’t be so.

It was of course a fiction that children were not tested before the SATs. At secondary level children came to us with the results of properly standarised tests from the NFER, tests that were adminstered with none of the anguish and stress of the SATs, which were used to diagnose a pupil’s needs and not to judge schools and which were considerably more useful and reliable, and were not the tail wagging the dog of the school.

As parents, we sent our children to the local schools. The primary school they both went to was a happy school and well run. It tried to continue that way when the SATs came in (fortunately after our children had gone on to the local secondary) but the results of the first year were miserable compared to the other local schools that had drilled their children for the exams from the start, and they were forced to change.

This protest, though I think driven by exam pressures, was not about getting rid of the exams but about funding. Schools have suffered under austerity, and those in the more difficult areas have suffered more than those with wealthier parents, though even those have problems. Parents associations which used to raise funds for extras are now having to do so for essentials, and parents in many schools are now asked for ‘voluntary contributions’ to our free education system. Though with various reforms by both New Labour and Tories we hardly have a system, more a mess.

This protest, like so many schools, was also funded by voluntary contributions, crowdfunding led by Labour MP Jess Phillips who also led the children along Whitehall to Downing St.

Give Me Five days

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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