Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 11:11 UK

Rally backing for school sit-in

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Parents stage school sit-in

A demonstration has been held in support of parents who have occupied two closure-threatened schools.

More than 20 parents barricaded themselves inside Wyndford Primary and St Gregory's Primary in the Maryhill area of Glasgow on Friday afternoon.

The city-wide Save Our Schools Campaign held a rally outside the premises in a show of solidarity.

Glasgow City Council has proposed closing or merging 13 primary schools and 12 nurseries across the city.

Parent Debbie Watson is one of those occupying the school.

She said: "We are fighting against the closure of our schools.

"If our schools close within the Wyndford community, our community dies.

The support we've been getting has been amazing. I've had about 300 texts from all over Britain and even one from Italy
Nikki Rathmill
Protestor

"It's already in a bad state as it is, but our community will fight to the bitter end to keep our schools open.

"We will be here until the very end until Glasgow City Council and the Labour councillors wake up."

The protest at the two schools, which back on to each other, began at 1430 BST on Friday after parents attending a balloon launch in the school grounds locked themselves inside the assembly halls.

The campaigners refused police requests to leave, and said they were willing to remain in the schools over the two-week Easter holiday period, which started on Friday, if necessary.

Officers have made no attempt to force the protestors out, and there have been no arrests made.

Parents inside the buildings have been using the school kitchen facilities to make themselves tea and food.

Occupant Nikki Rathmill, whose five-year-old son Ross attends Wyndford, said there were 11 parents and friends inside the school, with a further 11 in St Gregory's.

"We are trying to save our children's education and their safety," she explained.

"The support we've been getting has been amazing. I've had about 300 texts from all over Britain and even one from Italy since this started.

"We're determined to stay for as long as it takes."

Demonstrators
A demonstration was held in support of the occupying parents

Under the local authority proposals, Wyndford Primary would close and pupils would be transferred to Parkview Primary.

St Gregory's would also shut with pupils moving to St Mary's Primary.

Some parents have claimed the plans would have a negative impact on children's education, and have suggested a better solution would be to merge Wyndford, which is non-denominational, with St Gregory's, a Roman Catholic school.

A decision will be taken later this month after a consultation closed in March.

Ms Rathmill said the proposals would mean her son travelling 1.4 miles to Parkview school every morning.

She added: "They are saying they will give him a travel card, but he's only five and there's no way he can get on a bus himself.

"This is a peaceful protest. We just want to highlight the fact that the council have taken everything away from this area."

Demonstrations have previously been held outside the City Chambers and at the schools involved.

The parents who have staged these school occupations have shown tremendous courage and principle
Richie Venton
Save Our Schools

Save Our Schools campaign organiser Richie Venton praised the parents for the action.

"The parents who have staged these school occupations have shown tremendous courage and principle," Mr Venton said.

"Parents are fighting for the future of kids across the city, and deserve a huge show of support from the rest of us, not just from the Maryhill community but beyond."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said it held a six-week consultation exercise on its school estate strategy, which included 46 public meetings, and resulted in more than 8,000 formal responses.

"These are currently being collated and councillors will receive a comprehensive report for them to make informed decisions on all the proposals at a meeting of the council on 23 April," the spokesman added.



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SEE ALSO
Parents occupy threatened schools
03 Apr 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
School closure consultation ends
18 Mar 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Controversial school merger call
04 Mar 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
City march over school closures
14 Feb 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
School closure plan moves forward
30 Jan 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Protest over school closure plan
23 Jan 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Close and merge plan for schools
20 Jan 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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