Students smashing up police gear grabbed the headlines after the anti-fees demo on Wednesday and fair enough, who doesn’t enjoy a story about soap-dodging, lecture-skipping layabouts running around being daft?
The snag is that these protests are a bit different. Most have been attended by lecturers, some have involved parents and many have seen school students join the throng.
The last time the latter got involved was back in the 70s with the National Union of School Students. It didn’t hang around for long. I was one of two members at my school and such was the cowardice and secrecy I only found out about the other one last year and he is my brother.
Today’s school students are made of sterner stuff. They are on their feet because they’re the ones who are going to be lumbered with the universities-for-the-rich system.
In retaliation, Education Minister Michael Gove has decided to treat all of them as inmates at a young offenders’ institution. He aims to turn army officers into teachers and then get teachers to search pupils for “any item which they reasonably believe is going to be used to cause harm to others or to break a law”. Like a ruler, for example.
In short, Gove’s cunning plan is to make schools so grim that anyone would beg to pay £9,000 just to get out.