Protest march shuts academy

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The troubled Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle was closed yesterday when a demonstration by pupils got out of hand.

Scores of children marched to the academy, one the Government's new-est flagship schools, led by a boy with a banner saying, "We're taking action". As they marched, several hundred more milled around inside the school grounds. Police tried to keep order outside the school but fleets of buses taking pupils to the academy struggled to reach their destination as the protest spilled across the road.

Swarms of pupils then began scaling the school's fences and trouble broke out inside the premises. As the melee continued, around 20 parents and 30 sixth-formers stood silently outside in support of the protest.

The academy's director Mark Yearsley decided to close the school to prevent further trouble, saying: "I think this started off as a very peaceful protest by a group of young people and parents concerned about education. We were fully supportive of that and they have a right to voice and have a voice about their concerns."

But he said the academy would look at the actions of a minority of pupils in the light of what had happened.

Figures released by Cumbria County Council – disputed by the academy – showed 149 pupils had been excluded from the 1,900-pupil school since it opened in September. As revealed in The Independent yesterday, the school is facing an investigation after parents complained about standards.