Monday, 1 October 2012

Minors' Strike

In Fotheringhamton today, there was surprise news when the entirety of Fotheringhamton Gardens primary school unanimously voted to strike “until our concerns have been answered”. Class representative Tommy Smith (11) and headteacher Sandra Wilson (51), met to discuss a series of issues, including but not limited to, the number of benches in the playground, a discussion on the idea of allowing football to be played in designated playground areas, and “the weird smell in the male changing rooms” [sic]. According to both parties, things came to a head in a discussion over Mr Lowson, the PE teacher, and undisclosed activities within aforementioned changing rooms, and, with neither participant willing to budge on the issue, Mr Smith decided to walk out of talks and convene with his members to discuss further action. Miss Jenkins (8) told us that these talks were brief and “Within minutes, we decided the best course of action was a strike. When laid out objectively, the problems lay deeper than these superficial concerns initially raised and ran right at the heart of this school. We cannot continue to be treated like second-class citizens and ignored!”. We spoke to a spokesperson from the school board, who told us “If they don’t want to be treated like children, perhaps they shouldn’t act like them. We’re ready and waiting to reconvene talks when they are willing to grow up and be adult about necessary compromises”. Mrs Wilson was unavailable for personal comment, and Mr Lowson would only direct us to the school board’s comments, whilst repeatedly stating that “They are only allegations, and, need I remind you, until proven guilty, I am legally innocent, and on that I consider the matter closed”.

A spokesperson, 9 year old Jessica Floris, for Mr Smith said he would be releasing a statement later this afternoon that would cover a wider range of the issues involved. She allowed us to view an unfinished draft of the speech, which included such topics as “If David Cameron and his ilk are so fond of a voluntary “Big Society”, why must I be legally mandated to attend classes every day for no pay when I could, and some would argue SHOULD, be out in the real world earning a wage. If education was deemed to be vital to my success, surely I should have my university fees paid for by governmental contributions, and if it’s not considered vital, why must I attend for 11 years of my fledgling career? Who needs maths when you have calculators? I can already read and write; anything further seems excessive and superfluous to my requirements. I’m sure Mrs Wilson is sitting very superciliously in her ivory office while the plebs strike, but the fact of the matter is that she is part of the problem with this culture”. Ms Floris said that such inflammatory comments were likely to be edited down in the final version, but that this draft clearly showed the anger Mr Smith felt towards the “petty bureaucrats” limiting “the potential of every child entering the system”, and the “authoritarian stance” the school took on every issue being “indicative of a closed-minded, dogmatic society unwilling to advance as part of a more progressive society".

We asked some of the strikers what this meant to them, as they picketed the school gates. Trevor Pittins, aged 6, said “It’s scandalous the way they treat us in there! Do this, do that, pick that up, don’t throw that in here... Let me live my own life, Mrs Jones!”, while Harry Fligart told us “We’re in here, every day, 8:30 am till 3:15 pm, with a strictly regimented break system, for no money, and we’ve no choice in the matter. There are prisoners that get treated better than us, and I tell you what, I bet their cells are nicer than our bloody classrooms, pardon my French”, but these are counter-balanced by participants such as Patrick Gossomer, who said “Well, it’s a day off, isn’t it? I’m sure the powers that be will have the whole thing sorted out within a few days”. In a day of uncertainties, the only thing we can know for sure is that this isn’t the last you’ll hear about this story.