Written by Phil Redmond. Tx 9th February 1979
SAG continues to demonstrate (with placards bearing the catchy slogan “Uniform’s a drag – go with SAG”).
The noise irritates the mild-mannered Mr Sutcliffe, but Mr Llewellyn seems quite unconcerned, regarding it as “one of the problems of living with democracy, having to tolerate elements you don’t agree with.” He asks for a delegation to air their grievances – which is led, of course, by the young militant Jessica Samuels. We know by now exactly what Jess will say (and the Headmaster knows as well, hence his slightly mocking tone).
He makes the point that he’s not prepared to do anything until it can be proved that the majority of pupils are in favour of abolishing uniform – a concept which SAG never seem to have contemplated. He offers to raise it at the next staff/pupil council meeting – where the proposal to abolish uniform is defeated by nine votes to two. Coincidentally, Penny Lewis is gathering support for a referendum to accurately gauge everybody’s opinions (which would seem to be the obvious way to prove, once and for all, what the majority of pupils actually want). It’s therefore odd that neither SAG or Mr Llewellyn ever seem to consider the possibility of a referendum themselves.
Naturally, Jess and the others don’t take this latest setback at all well and decide to organise a sit-in, barricading themselves into the secretary’s office. Maximum embarrassment is created for Mr Llewellyn when Jess calls the local paper – but he’s able to diffuse the situation by telling the reporter that it’s hardly a full-scale riot – just a handful of individuals. When the SAG members sees the reporter has left without speaking to them, this is the final straw and they begin to wreck the office (much to the dismay of Trisha and Cathy).
After the heavy artillery (Mr Baxter) is brought in to restore order, the SAG leaders are expelled whilst Trisha and Cathy are suspended for seven days. It brings to an end one of the most confrontational plot-threads that the series would ever attempt. Off hand, it’s difficult to recall any other teacher/pupil conflicts on such a scale as this. Although Grange Hill would deal with many contentious issues in the decades to come, this sort of open disobedience would rarely be seen again.