Thursday, 25 February 2021

Protesting Against A Class Closure

Demonstration against a village school class closure, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Villagers gathering at the meeting point before setting off on a march.

Preuilly sur Claise and Yzeures sur Creuse, who together operate our local kindergarten and primary schools, have been threatened by the National Education Service with a class closure and the loss of a teacher at the beginning of the next school year (in September). Every thinking person in town finds this unacceptable and a protest movement is being energetically co-ordinated by the Headmistress and a couple of Mums. But, as the Mayor had to glumly admit, it's probably a done deal, although there is still some negotiations to be conducted as a formality.

Banner protesting class closure in a village school, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The kids had made banners which were hung up on the school railings.

The Mayors of the five villages that form the catchment area for these two schools have done their best to put up strong arguments and they've met with everyone they can think of who could influence the decision. Our local representative in the Legislative Assembly, Sophie Auconie, has been great. She came down and visited the school and allowed herself to be subjected to hard questioning from the kids about what was going on. Naturally she has been very supportive of the Mayors as they take the fight higher up the decision making chain. Sadly though, this will be one of her last activities as our Parliamentary Deputy. She has announced her resignation, due to ongoing health concerns after having treatment for breast cancer.

Mayor of Preuilly sur Claise being interviewed by TVTours, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
TVTours interviewing our Mayor.

On Saturday I attended a march to demonstrate to the authorities how opposed the community is to the class closure, and I'm taking the opportunity to show some of my photos here. The main concern is that it will result in class sizes that are too large, and nobody benefits from that.

Demonstrating against a village school class closure, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Christian counting marchers. I was number 53 or thereabouts, and I was about in the middle of the march, so a good hundred turned up (in a village of 1025 people, most of whom are distinctly elderly).

It is strongly felt that this move is all about providing extra teachers in the Priority Urban Zones, which was a government promise, but at the expense of rural schools, which the government claimed it would not do. It is also felt that a class closure is the thin edge of the wedge and once a school suffers the loss of a class it is likely to be at risk of closure altogether. (And we in Preuilly should know, as we've seen it happen in the villages around us.)

Demonstration against a village school class closure, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Marching up the Grand Rue.

People are worried that young families won't move into the area if the schools aren't good, and that those who have recently moved here will feel let down. There are concerns about auxiliary services being lost in a knock on effect, such transportation, daycare, the school canteen or the library. It is felt that geographically we are actually in a great position to have fully functioning schools and municipal plans for the future have been based on that.

Demonstration against a village school class closure, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The head of the march sets off.

Demonstration against a village school class closure, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
We occupied the market place.

Demonstration against a village school class closure, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Photo opp in front of the town hall.

Demonstration against a village school class closure, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
About 10 policemen provided security.


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1 comment:

Ken Broadhurst said...

Same situation in Saint-Aignan right now.

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