Concerns over rioting at the recent teacher's strike about pay proved to be unfounded and the demonstration passed off peacefully. Police had been concerned about potential flare ups following violent incidents at the recent NUT Head teacher's conference where two head teachers are reported to have actually listened to the visiting speaker.
Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair commented, "Preparations were put in place to ensure a peaceful protest. My officers have been trained in the most up to date strategies for dealing with teachers. They can be an extremely troublesome group of people if not handled carefully." Evidence of the effectiveness of the police strategy was demonstrated when three teachers tried to leave the protest to go to the toilet. "My officers immediately blew a whistle and stopped the offenders, cautioning them by reminding them that they had plenty of time to go before the start of the protest."
Protesters started gathering at around 8.30 in the morning but the main protest didn't start until 9.00 when someone rang a bell. Those taking part took a long roll call followed by a speech which nobody appeared to take notice of. Sir Ian Blair commented, "This is the most dangerous time in these situations. We mustn't forget that teachers can be a highly organised group of individuals."
The protest began slowly and calmly but began to get boisterous at approximately 10.30. Suddenly, teachers were seen running and shouting in all directions. Police were forced to draw a tight cordon around the protestors. Sir Ian said, "In situations like these, its important to let them expend some of their pent up energy. We let them run about for about twenty minutes and then blew a whistle. Automatically, everyone stood still and it was easy to get them into lines to allow the protest to continue." There were no major injuries apart from a scraped knee and a bloody nose. Fortunately we came prepared and our first aiders were all equipped with a pack of wet blue paper towels."
The rest of the day passed relatively calmly, apart from lunchtime where many sloped off to the nearest McDonald's and hung around in large groups on the city's street corners. The event came to a close at approximately 3.20 when government officials handed out pieces of paper for the teachers to fill in. They have been asked to return with the completed sheet next week if they want their voices to be heard.