School Students Against War

IssueDecember 2007 - January 2008
Feature by Tali Janner-Klausner

“If you truly want to determine Britain's state of affairs, you should look to its young people.” Gordon Brown has often expressed this idea. It is time he followed his own advice. The young people of Britain want nothing to do with his policies of war.

In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq thousands of school students across Britain walked out of their schools and colleges. The spirit, defiance and sheer vibrancy of this mass action helped energise the anti-war movement.

Far from being apathetic, we as young people - close in age both to our soldiers and to the Iraqi children - gave a powerful moral voice in the opposition to the war.

School Students Against War was formed by participants in the 2003 walkouts, in that same spirit of positive action. We campaign against the ongoing illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as against any extension of British and American aggression in the area.

Activist democracy

SSAW is a national activist group unique in being completely organised and maintained by school and Further Education students under the age of 19.

Members meet regularly in their local group as well as campaigning and setting up groups in their own school. From lunchtime film showings to giving out leaflets to friends, these groups enable school students to effectively organise and raise awareness among their classmates.

Locally, SSAW groups organise pickets and demonstrations, hold public meetings and debates, as well as fundraising gigs - SSAW is also entirely financed at grassroots levels.

All decisions made about SSAW and its campaigns are completely democratic. Representatives from each local group meet to discuss and vote on policy and future action three times a year.

We have built for and participated in every national anti-war demonstration, protesting the farce of the “War on Terror” and its terrible consequences, ensuring large school student contingents at all major actions and anti-war conferences as well.

Through these mobilisations, SSAW enables teenagers to get involved in political activism with similar-minded people their own age.


Over the past year SSAW has launched a new campaign against the army's targeted recruitment of school and FE students.

Whether through army-themed activity days, recruitment fairs, assemblies or lunchtime meetings, a military presence in schools is unacceptable.

In many cases, attendance of such events is compulsory, without even a right of reply for students wanting to show that the army is not in fact this exciting video game that recruiters make it out to be.

Recently the army has even sunk so low as to distribute pro-war lesson plans to schools, pushing their agenda into the national curriculum.

Over the past year we have worked closely with trade unions as well as having held pickets of recruiting centres, public meetings and even a day-long anti-recruitment-themed street fair as part of this campaign.

SSAW also helps students to campaign against the armed forces within their schools, from disruptions of assemblies to lunchtime debates.


I am proud to be involved in SSAW and its work. It is an empowering and motivating organisation full of exceptional activists creating real change and truly banishing the stale myth of teenage indifference.

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