At a recent national conference of militant school student leaders, the following seven demands were made:
1. Freedom of speech and assembly, and the right to organise in schools. No control over school clubs and societies, or censorship of school magazines.
2. Effective democratic control of the school by an elected School Council, subject to instant recall, made up of representatives of students and staff.
3. The abolition of all exams in their present form.
4. The abolition of corporal and all arbitrary forms of punishment, and of the prefect system.
5. A free, non-segregated (by class, race or sex), comprehensive education system.
6. Educational establishments to become local evening centres for educational and cultural activity and discussion.
7. Full maintenance grants to all receiving full-time education over school leaving age.
These mean ‘pupil power.’ I am not asking you to support them out of hand, but please read them and think about them. It is true that we are moving (either slowly or very slowly) in the direction of each of them. But if you consider them to be ahead of their time, remember it is also your time.
The one of particular interest to us at Veritas is that about censorship of school magazines. We are subject to strict control, particularly when it comes to religion. This is on the pretext that parents should not be offended; Veritas is for the school, not for the parents.
As far as politics is concerned, censorship is less severe. So in spite of criticism, and some rank abuse, following our attack on N.A.T.O., we continue along the same lines with material on student demonstrations and Anarchism. Thankfully Peter Mullins is no longer writing in Veritas that student demonstrations are ‘feeble and meaningless’ and that wars are ‘just unfortunate.’ (December 1966)
On N.A.T.O. we stand firm. If the Americans and the Russians want to fight it out, they can do it in the middle of the Pacific, or round the backside of the Moon. I personally have little respect for either of them, and if this country is content to cling to the U.S., as it did during the recent de Gaulle affair, then we just don’t deserve to get into Europe, as is our government’s professed wish. It is not going to help anyone to trust us, if we do not trust anyone else.
On the second demand, however much power you believe the Council should wield, you have to admit that at present it is totally inadequate. It is not at all representative of the school, but rather a botched up collection of individuals. Important matters are either just not raised or merely rubber-stamped. The School Council is discussed on page seven.
Demand number three calls for the overhaul of the exam system. Our own Mr Ruffle, in a speech made when he stepped down as president of the A.M.A. at the end of last year, stressed the need for exams to take a new form. So far no really good alternative has been produced, but Ian Curr puts forward some ideas on page seven.
It is only a matter of time (but wasted time nevertheless) before numbers 4,5 and 6 become the rule. Number 7 is rather more remote, though it would help solve the problem of so many people leaving school in search of money as soon as they are able, and would relieve the burden on parents who get nothing more than their family allowance for keeping their sons and daughters at school till they can go to university.
Most of these views, like others in the magazine, are a long way from those of the administration, but they are still worthy of consideration. Whatever your own opinions, wake up out of the apathy which is so evident in B.W.S. We invite criticism as much as praise, and we are still willing to give space to anything with something to say.