On a cold and clear Saturday lunchtime 300 friends and supporters of Winterbourne International Academy gathered outside the school gates to demonstrate support for the school, for teachers and for the future of our students.
Not against the school
We were clear that we were not demonstrating against the school which is performing remarkably well in difficult circumstances. Instead we showed we are against a takeover by Oasis, against the lack of leadership, and against the lack of transparency.
During a full hour of good natured protest there were chants of “What do we want? Democracy!” and “What do we not what? Oasis”. There was a little bit of singing, lots of chatter and some laughter. This was a good demonstration – a coming together of the community to save what’s ours.
We saw future students helping to fight to save the school they want to go to, past students returning, and present students and teachers all united for WIA. There was ample support from passing cars honking and cheering.
In attendance was local MP Jack Lopresti who reiterated his intent to bring to problem to the attention of Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education. There were local councillors too, supporting the demonstration’s aims.
The event was filmed by ITV. The Bristol Evening Post sent a reporter and photographer. You can read their report on their website.
Most of the banners were hand-made at short notice, highlighting the speed at which the process of re-brokering is happening. It also makes clear that this was a real demonstration by real people, not a manufactured dispute.
Most striking were the sixth form made boards imploring officials to “listen” and “give us a choice”. This sums up the mood of the day. That and “#noasis”.