Motion to NEU conference (30 March to 3 April 2018)

Good news:

Our campaign – Take The Stress Out Of Studying (TSOS) – has been added to the agenda of the National Education Union (NEU) conference as a motion from March 30 to April 3 2018.

If you go to this link, and find Motion 70 on the list of motions, it is there.

For those who are attending, it is useful and necessary to think about additional notions, e.g. supporting the students’ struggle in the campaign. Already, I’ve set up a team of students in my school who are heavily involved, for information.

Please share, attend and spread the word!

Linking the Picturehouse strike for a Living Wage with the TSOS campaign for stressless education

Workers and Students United! No to Stress in Studying! No to Low Pay!

My name is Joe Booth. I’m a 15-year-old socialist from the London Borough of Hackney. I’m currently in my final year at secondary school at an academy in Hackney Downs called the Mossbourne Federation. My school is a pressurizing experience: Students are giving at least 2 pieces of long homework a day, the examination structure is 100% just exams, students get long detentions for simply standing up without permission, students have to wear spotless black socks, school opens at 8.17am, and so it continues. It’s even pressurizing to teachers and other members of staff: Some work from 7.40am to 6.30pm, teachers spend their entire weekends with marking, classes often have over 15 students in total, a lot get overwhelmed responding to over 20 emails and organising their duties simultaneously, and so it continues.

This simply cannot continue! The stress and overload gets in the way of our learning and teaching, and has led to loss of self-esteem, demoralisation to get into higher education and high suicide rates.

You can read more about our solution to the mental health crisis here: And about the surprising suicide rates here:

Hence, I and others launched a campaign in September this year called Take The Stress Out Of Studying, calling for the unity and solidarity of students, workers, parents, trade unions and the rest of the labour movement to draw up and mobilise for demands that will reverse education cuts, improve mental health, improve education, abolish school authoritarianism – i.e. exam pressure, bullying, large class sizes, curriculum rigidity, uniforms, UCAS – and give students and workers the individual attention they require. Websites are: |

Coincidentally, I attended a picket line on Thursday, 14 December, 2017 at Hackney Picturehouse against the mistreatment of the workers at the cinema and every other Picturehouse and Cineworld cinema in the United Kingdom. The Picturehouse workers have been on strike now for over a year: they’re paid £9.30 per hour, no access to sick, maternity or paternity pay, and the managers are refusing to negotiate with them.

This simply cannot continue! No workers at such cinemas can give you tickets to watch Star Wars, give you pizza and coke to enjoy whilst relaxing, or anything for the means of production for our people – that’s the power in the hands of a worker – if they don’t receive enough money for a decent home, TV or any decent living standards, or don’t get paid at all if they break their legs, have a new offspring or anything to require a vital day off work.

You can read more about the campaign for this strike and sign the petition here:

Hence, I did a speech on that demonstration, conveying my solidarity with the strike and announcing my Take The Stress Out Of Studying (TSOS) campaign. You can watch it here:

The points of solidarity between the Picturehouse strike and the campaign for stressless education, of which are

–          Students are the future of the workers, so why not support the workers who’re on strike for a Living Wage, if you’re supporting the movement for better and stressless education – Workers and Students United!

–          It was the workers who fought for a weekend, and a summer holiday, and an NHS – so why not support the fight for a Living Wage – No to Low Pay!

–          Too many students are demoralised during education, so they abandon their will to continue learning and get into the workforce so easily, as they cannot think for themselves – No to Stress, No to Exams!

–          If you’re a student, or education worker and you’ve crossed the picket line to see Star Wars, think again: these are people of our class – the workers – who are fighting for enough money for their lives and better treatment whilst serving you at work, and going into the cinema during this boycott will undermine our strike, and let the managers continue to pay their workers low pay – Picturehouse and Cineworld makes so much money, but doesn’t share any of it – so why not support the workers fight for better wealth for life and better treatment in the workforce?!! – Workers and Students United!

–          If you’re a Picturehouse striker and you support academisation and the exam system, think again: students are the future of our class – the workers – and they all want to learn, but their education collapses when they’re given 3 homework’s a day, and 2 hour detentions for defying unnecessary rules – let alone students, teachers and other school workers are demoralised in the workforce when they have to deal with 20 students at once, respond to over 15 emails simultaneously, and work for 11 hours a day – Workers and Students United!

Therefore, I call on students, education workers, parents, the labour movement, cinema workers and everyone who receives low pay, ever-lasting workload and workforce mistreatment of any sort, to expand the TSOS campaign and Picturehouse strike. So, if you or anyone else is in either of these situations, please invite people to TSOS – – convey them your solidarity and empathy, sit down and confer with them about their anxieties, explain patiently why workers and students should be fit to fight for better pay and stressless education in solidarity, pass motions onto your local trade union or Labour Party branch about TSOS and the Picturehouse workers and sign the petitions: |

We need to continue the struggle for better pay and stressless education, so why not attend the Picturehouse Strike Solidarity Gig on 10th January, 2018 at 7pm, where you can have discussions and meet like-minded people about the strike. Book tickets quickly: I’m going to be leading a street stall in East London soon in the New Year of 2018; location, time and date TBC, but if you sign our petition and give your Gmail address, I can email you for information.

There’s a saying for the birth of every proletarian, socialist mass movement: Agitate, Educate and Organise. And that’s exactly what’s linking these two struggles together.


In solidarity, Joe Booth

How to tackle the exams that are operating today

Today’s Solution to Mock Exams: No to Stress, No to Exams!

My name is Joe Booth, I’m 15 years old and I’m from the London Borough of Hackney. I’m currently revising very hard for my mock exams from December 4th to 13th, 2017, and so are other peers of mine. It’s called a collective pressure: almost everyone at my school, of my area, of my age and of my generation is constantly having to revise very hard for their continuous exams, as a mere response to the extreme pressures of exams and our school system.

It’s been too hard for us. So many students in this situation are having to find the most pressurized strategy possible to pass their exams: some I know have come off social media to revise hard, over 6 students simultaneously go to the library every Saturday, so many (including me) have to spend their entire days revising and missing their events or other personal plans, and so it goes on. Too many of us have even been demoralised in this situation: students (including me) have taken days off school due to anxiety or depression, too many students (especially ones in need) express high distress during tests and get given negative sanctions if they lash out, 26% of students experience suicidal thoughts, and so it goes on.

You can learn more about this factor of youth mental health reading this:

Like with most of the British school system now, my academy is focused centrally around exams and qualifications of students in lieu of teaching them their subjects. Four years ago, when doing GCSEs, students could do project work and 75% exams and 25% course-work. Now, it is just exams. There’s not even work experience at my school for Yr10 students, like how their used to be. There is now debating clubs – which were suspended between 2014 and 2017, for examination reasons – but so many of us (including me), who would love to debate and are good at it, cannot attend, due to so much catch-up work, intervention work, unnecessary detentions and all kinds of factors related to examinations and education hierarchy.

This simply cannot continue! We’re all students who want to learn as much as we can, but we cannot think independently under this hierarchical school system that only cares about qualifications, obedience and hard revision. Most students are not even learning if they’re demoralised or become virtually rebellious. Hence, I intend to interview and confer with most students about their personal anxieties and vulnerabilities about their exams – one strategy would be to produce bulletins: papers that collect information from the oppressed, present articles on how to fight their oppression, and present thousands of ideals to build their solidarity from all related struggles.

Which is followed by the expansion and support of the campaign to Take The Stress Out Of Studying! So, if you or anyone else is in this situation, please invite people to this campaign – – convey them your solidarity and empathy, sit down and confer with them about how to end this pressure and overload, pass motions onto your local trade union or Labour Party branch and sign the petition for Department for Education:

We must continue fighting for a free, stressless and properly educative education system, so why not join the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) – a national campaign for this entire cause – at its Winter Conference in Liverpool on the 9th and 10th of December this year where we will discuss our next steps and where you can meet like-minded people.

In solidarity, Joe Booth

Report of the March for Free Education (15/11/2017)

A 14-year-old Labour Party and education activist called Hasan Patel wrote a report of the national demo for free and better education on November 15, 2017, and shares his own views on how to continue this struggle.

Please share this all over social media, and use it for the struggle for free and democratic education.

Free Education Now! Tax the Rich!

My name is Hasan Patel, I’m 14 years old and I’m from the East End of London. On the 15th of November, 2017, I marched with thousands of other students from across the country on the national demo for free education which was organised by the stellar organisation, the NCAFC (National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts). The NCAFC is a voluntary organisation led by student and education worker activists from around the U.K.

The three main demands presented at the demo were: “Scrap all fees”, “Living grants for all” and “Stop the campus cuts”. Even though the demographic of the demo mostly consisted of university students, there were several schoolchildren, including me. Like many others nationally, my school has to deal with severe budget cuts everyday. My own teachers have to spend their own money on basic equipment as they are being squeezed by tight budgets. My Arts department is losing out because smaller budgets mean that they have to focus on academic subjects such as English and Mathematics. Class sizes are increasing.

This simply can’t go on. That’s why I mobilised for and marched on this demonstration. I know that this does not have to happen. I know that it is the same government attacking higher education that is cutting my school’s funding. It is in my interest to fight for the education that I deserve.

The march was very lively and full of young and vibrant energy. It was an awe-inspiring and motivating experience. Some of the chants included: “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!” and “Education should be free, not just for the bourgeoisie!” We also passed Picturehouse Central cinema in the heart of the West End where workers are striking for a living wage and against zero-hour contracts. Things started to kick off here with chants, such as “What’s disgusting? Union busting! What’s outrageous? Poverty wages!” Solidarity!

Once we reached Parliament Square, we assembled for the closing rally. I was given the chance to speak and I spoke about the school cuts I’m facing as well as about the vision for a National Education Service that a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would deliver. It was my favourite moment of the day by far and my speech has amassed 30K views online! Here’s the link if you want to see it:

We must continue fighting for a free and properly funded education system, so why not join the NCAFC at its Winter Conference in Liverpool on the 9th and 10th of December this year where we will discuss our next steps and where you can meet like-minded people.

Thank you, Hasan Patel

Tell us your story of stress at school

Tell us your story of stress at school. What is it at your school that puts too much pressure on you and your schoolmates? It is petty rules, or constant tests, or detentions? It is being bullied, or shouted at, or being given too much homework? How does it affect you and other students?

Post a comment and let’s tell each other what’s going on. You don’t have to give your real name or the name of your school. Just tell us what town or area you are in.

And if you’ve left school but still remember what was distressing about it, we’d like to hear from you too.

Why we’ve chosen to launch this campaign: Take The Stress Out Of Studying

The Clarion magazine interviewed Joe Booth, one of the founding campaigners

Clarion: Why do we need to take the stress out of studying?
We need education so we can learn things so we can contribute to society. If we are stressed while studying we are not contributing. It is not just students but also school workers. But just looking at students school pressure goes way beyond what is needed to motivate us: it is exams, it is regimentation, rigidity of the curriculum, and it is everything that removes democracy from the running of education.
Students often deal with this stress by misbehaving in lessons. Often it leads to students not wanting to be in school. School is regimented as it emulates the workplace. This is not the sort of education we need, we want an education that allows us to think for ourselves.
Clarion: What could be done to make studying less stressful?
We should abolish exams. Detentions could be abolished or reformed. Teachers need more support, resources and smaller class sizes so they are not stressed when dealing with students, and passing that stress onto them. We should abolish academies, and bring all existing academies back into local control. Students need more individual attention and support. Lessons should be about the subject, not about how to pass the exam. Cuts to special education needs support needs to stop, and be reversed. We also need to fight against the huge cuts coming to schools which will see schools losing even more teachers and support workers.
This happens in universities as well. 27% of university students report having mental health problems while studying, with higher rates amongst women and LGBT students.
Clarion: How can school workers (teachers etc) be involved in a campaign to take the stress out of studying?
They can campaign on the stress that effects school workers, as this impacts on the education of students. The National Education Union should organise a serious campaign around school worker stress, but also the causes of this stress. We need ideas about how to create a different form of education system which is not based on jumping through exam and assessment hoops, and conform to a restrictive curriculum.
We want them to unite with students who face stress, and are organising against it.
Clarion: What can people who want to get involved do for the campaign?
In your school you could organise a petition around a specific issue/s that affects you and your school mates or the workers in the school. And you can have further discussions on how to solve all of these issues in our movement.