November 17, 2023
From Socialist Worker (UK)

14 school students on the school walkout for Palestine in Barking in east London, one waves a big Palestine flag on the right hand side of the image

School students in Barking, east London, walk out for Palestine (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Hundreds of school and university students joined walkouts in solidarity with Palestine on Friday.

School students of all ages attended the walkouts, initiated on WhatsApp groups, in London, Glasgow, Manchester, Luton, Burton on Trent and elsewhere.

School student Ayah was one of over 1,000 students and parents who joined a demonstration outside Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford, east London. “I was on the demonstration in London on Saturday,” she said. “It was great, so many people came. I think we have to keep going.”

Ayah goes to Beal High School, where students organised not to attend an assembly with local Labour MP Wes Streeting earlier this month. “About 90 percent of us didn’t attend that assembly,” she said. “We didn’t want to sit and listen to someone who supports Israel and genocide. 

She added, “People have been excluded for wearing badges or anything that shows support Palestine. It’s unfair. There’s this double standard. The school says Palestine is too political, but why invite Wes Streeting to speak?” 

Students and parents recited poetry and made speeches in front of the crowds. Parent Aklima, who brought her two young children to the protest, told Socialist Worker, “My kids go to school every day. They have 100 percent attendance. But it was just too important for us not to come to protest today. 

“My children are watching the news. My daughter has been sobbing, seeing how the children in Palestine are suffering. They want to know why they can’t live an everyday life like them and why they can’t go out and play. Going to protests lets them know that others are as upset and angry as they are. 

“I think that schools should do something, why won’t they do an assembly on what’s happening? Why won’t they even check if our children are alright watching what’s going on? 

Aklima added that she was furious at her local MPs who abstained in the vote over a ceasefire. “They aren’t listening to us,” she said. “All we are asking for is a ceasefire and to stop the killing of children. I’m so angry that MPs in east London wouldn’t even dare put their jobs on the line for that.” 

Hundreds of sixth form students from Newham College in east London walked out of their classrooms to join students and parents outside Newham Town Hall. “I’m here to show I care”, school student Suniraa told Socialist Worker. “I’m upset every day that the Israelis are killing children, so I decided to come to this protest.

“At school we have been organising charity events to raise money for Palestine, including a bake sale. This is my first protest, so it’s a great feeling.” 

School student Onuva added, “Palestine means a lot to me. It makes me sad that while I can go to school safely, children in Palestine can’t. For them, their academic year is already over. It also makes me angry that our country is funding a genocide.” 

There were also walkouts and protests in nearby Barking. The organisers of the east London walkouts say they will call more action soon.

Hundreds of Sixth form students walked out class at Luton Sixth Form college, raging against its links with arms manufacturer Leonardo UK. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of university students joined a demonstration in Edinburgh and then occupied the university’s main library. 

Another 50 student marched around campus at Dundee university. Hundreds of students, parents and workers called for a ceasefire on Buchanan Street in Glasgow.  

At Goldsmiths university in south London students held a banner that read, “From the river to sea”.  They were joined by members of the UCU union who chanted, “Goldsmiths students it’s our time, shut it down for Palestine.”

Demonstrators then marched to local Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft’s offices—who abstained in the vote over ceasefire in Gaza. Students left photos of children who had been murdered by the Israeli state outside her office.

At Liverpool university, students marched around campus so that more people could see the demonstration and join. Organisers are planning to walk out every week. And in Leeds students met for a rally and then marched around campus. 

  • Names have been changed