RGS defends preventing student walk-outs

The head teacher of Jesmond’s Royal Grammar School (RGS) has defended the decision to prevent its pupils from taking part in a student protest.

Last Wednesday, some members of the RGS sixth form had intended to join university students in voicing their discontent at the government proposal to raise tuition fees – but Dr Bernard Trafford says health and safety concerns were the reason their participation was thwarted.

He told JesmondLocal: “Some of our lower sixth students – who will be the first to be affected [by the proposal] – felt very strongly and wanted to join the protest, going out of school at lunchtime. They had heard about it from leaflets handed out at the Metro station. That left the school with a problem.

“There were no official organisers, so we couldn’t find out any details, and therefore couldn’t make any decisions or plans for keeping our students safe.

“Not only could I not guarantee their safety, I couldn’t even find out what risks there might be.

“Their safety has to be our primary concern. So, although our sixth formers are allowed out of school in free lessons and at lunchtime – Jesmond is a very safe area – I felt I had to write to parents explaining why we didn’t want our sixth formers to go down to the university to join any protest and asking them to talk it through with their children.”

However, Dr Trafford has refuted rumours that teachers were involved in locking the students in or using threats of punishment if they left the school.

He continued: “These rumours are false. We did neither, trying to keep it all very low-key.

“In the end few, if any, went. I was certainly not aware of any. My deputy and I wandered out at about 1.30pm and saw 200 damp protesters, and none of our students, march up Northumberland Street.”

On the contrary, it was a positive day for the school as its rugby 1st XV defeated Leeds Grammar School 8-3 in the fifth round of the Daily Mail Cup. Dr. Trafford added: “It was a tight and tense game that ended in sleet which rapidly turned to snow.”

The protests in Newcastle were part of a nationwide campaign to stop the government from enforcing rises in tuition fees. The current prices for students beginning university in September 2011 is £3,375 per year, but the government is proposing to raise them to £9,000 from 2012.

5 thoughts on “RGS defends preventing student walk-outs”

  1. Paula says:

    I, for one, am very proud of what are students are doing. Those peacefully occupying the Newcastle University Fine Art department are an inspiration.

  2. Anon says:

    Quasi-fascism from the RGS, I for one would expect nothing less – health and safety doesn’t do much to stop smokers leaving the grounds, and it didn’t do much regarding the marijuana scandal (besides downplaying it) a few years ago.

  3. Jane Cooper says:

    Dear ‘Anon’

    I expect nothing more than silly little comments like yours from people who hide behind ‘Anon’.

    Puerile and pointless IMO.

  4. Anon says:

    So, Jane, you’re defending the RGS’s expulsion of ONE student despite several more being involved in a drugs scandal, purely so the school could save face? Or is it the blind eye they turn to underage students smoking behind the Metro station you approve of? I couldn’t tell from your poorly put together critique of my comment…

    The Royal Grammar School is a breeding ground for arrogance and elitism, c.f. the ‘RGS is better than Dame Allan’s’ group on Facebook which is rife with insults directed at students of the other schools’ intelligence, physical appearance and so on. God forbid that a few of them exhibit some independent thought and desire to make their voice heard about a very serious current issue – better crush that immediately and keep them in their little bubble where they find out absolutely nothing about how the world really works.

    In case Jane is planning to cite jealousy as the reason for my anger, I actually attended the RGS – my years there were some of the worst of my life due to bullying and exclusion. When I have children, I’d probably pick sending them to be raised by wolves over attending the Royal Grammar School.

  5. Jane Cooper says:


    I’ll be happy to discuss the article preceding these comments only when I know with whom I am corresponding.

    I can’t see any evidence in either of your replies (assuming you are one ‘anon’ and not two different people) that you read any further in the article than the RGS in the title.

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