Another day and yet another action from the tenacious primary school parents of the Glasgow Save our Schools Campaign. Parents from the Our Lady of Assumption and Victoria primary schools, located in Ruchil and Govanhill, have gone into occupation in protest at their schools’ proposed closure. The Council will vote on the decision on Thursday.
On visiting Our Lady of Assumption I was greeted by a colourful display of banners protesting the closure, whilst the windows of the school had also been covered with anti-closure posters. One banner placed Glasgow Council leader Steven Purcell alongside Blair and Bush in an axis of evil! Whilst he may not have earned the same level of international notoriety it is clear to that he follows the same market orientated cost cutting agenda.
The parents were on the roof and explained to me that they had come to the school early in the morning and only occupied the roof so as to allow the school to function as normal. One woman told me that she did not want to disrupt the children’s education but that they would not be leaving until the council had guaranteed the future of the school. Keeping their record consistent Glasgow City Council has assumed a contemptuous manner and sent all the children home for the day, and yet again chose to send the police to deal with legitimate protestors, making no attempt to address their concerns.
The women made it clear that they were opposed to all school closures and not just that of Our Lady of Assumption; they have already received support from the parents of St Gregory’s Primary School which had been occupied for two weeks previously. They also told me that the Council was proposing sending their children to the St Gilbert’s Primary, which has suffered from rat infestations and was not designed to hold as many children as this would involve. Rather than respecting the supposed right to protest, the Council has instead threatened to send the children of Our Lady of Assumption to St Gilbert’s whilst the parents remain on the roof. This arrogance is only breeding a greater determination to fight amongst the communities affected by the proposed closures.
The Council obviously thought that when on Saturday, after two weeks of occupation, the brave parents of St Gregory’s and Wyndford Primary Schools in Maryhill ended their protest that they had exhausted the anti-closures campaign. They could not have been more wrong. Saturday saw a rally of people from across the community gather to greet the occupiers, and an evident resoluteness to continue the campaign was apparent.
On Thursday, as the Council gathers to vote on the closures there will be a demonstration outside, starting outside the City Chambers at twelve noon. It’s imperative this is as big a show of strength as possible. If the Council chooses to vote for these closures the struggle will not end there. Already there are talks of further occupations over the summer. It is clear that no closure will happen without a struggle spearheaded by parents but with cross community support; this campaign must be applauded for breaking the sectarian divisions that have traditionally divided education provision and social struggles in Glasgow.
In the mean time the occupiers are asking for support. They need sleeping bags, tents and camping stoves and welcome visits in support of the occupation. Messages of support can be sent to 07500492748.