Camden school pupils stage 24-hour sit-in protest at tuition fees increase

ONE Camden school has closed and sixth formers at another are staging a 24-hour occupation, to protest against the coalition government’s plans to increase tuition fees, ahead of tomorrow’s vote.

Acland Burghley secondary in Tufnell Park announced on its website that it was sending pupils home at 2pm today after it emerged they were planning a sit-in protest at the government’s plans to increase tuition fees.

A message on the school’s website from the headteacher Jo Armitage states: “An occupation of the school is planned in protest against university tuition fees. As this has been widely publicised it is likely to attract large numbers of students and the general public and I cannot ensure students’ safety in school.

“All parents/carers have been sent texts. Year 10, 11 and Post 16 students will be allowed to leave at lunch time.

“Year 7, 8 and 9 students will be allowed to leave only if we receive parents’ permission.”

It is understood that sixth formers with ID are being allowed to stage a peaceful protest in the assembly hall, but they have been informed they must be off the premises by 6pm today.

Meanwhile, a group of sixth formers at Camden School for Girls are planning to stay at the school through the night as part of a protest against the coalition government’s plans to raise tuition fees.

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MPs will vote in the House of Commons tomorrow on whether to allow universities to increase tuition fees from the current level of �3,290 a year to �6,000 and in some cases �9,000 per year, amid huge cuts to higher education funding.

Up to 150 sixth formers at Camden School for Girls, aged 16-18, took to the internet to rally support and encouragement as they staged a sit-in inside the school’s sixth-form building.

Labour MP John McDonnell, the Green Party leader and MP Caroline Lucas and university students have sent them messages of support.

Ms Lucas told the Camden pupils: “A new movement is being born and is determined to show that another world is possible – thank you for being part of that and I hope you know that you are making a real difference.”

The sit-in was timed to coincide with a further day of student protests across the country over education cuts ahead of tomorrow’s vote in Parliament on tuition fees.

A spokesman for the sixth formers said: “We’re protesting against the proposed rise in tuition fees and the cutting of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). We want to show solidarity with the rest of the student movement.

Another pupil added: “The teachers aren’t as happy as they could be, but they’ve been alright.”

Camden School for Girls declined to comment.

For more on the tuition fees debate - and how your MP plans to vote, see tomorrow’s Ham&High.