STUDENTS staged an impromptu protest to stop the removal of classroom computers weeks before their exams.

More than 50 sixth-form pupils at Riverside College, in Runcorn, barricaded themselves in a classroom to stop the IT facilities being taken away.

But last night Riverside insisted the students reacted because teachers failed to tell them the computers were being moved to a building just yards away.

The protest was spurred on by unrest over the recent merger of Runcorn and Widnes sixth form Centres and Halton College to form Riverside.

One 18-year-old student told the Daily Post last night: “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back for us. We were sick of being kept in the dark about everything.

“If they had been open and frank about everything it would have been all right, but a lot of us were opposed to the amalgamation in the first place and nobody seemed to listen.

“We are coming up to our exams and we are sick of the disruption.”

Senior staff at the college were sent in to talk to the pupils and answer any questions they had following the protest on Friday.

And yesterday, a group of pupils met the college principal.

A college spokeswoman said: “A number of students at the Riverside College Halton Runcorn Campus staged a protest regarding changes made to IT facilities.

“The Runcorn Campus consists of two large buildings a few metres apart. IT equipment was being moved from one building to the other.

“The move was to allow for upgrades to be made to learning facilities, as part of an ongoing programme of improvement works.

“This change specifically addresses weaknesses identified in the Ofsted inspection of the previous Widnes & Runcorn Sixth Form College and from learners themselves.

“The protest on Friday arose because some staff had not fully communicated the changes to their students.

“Senior members of staff defused the situation on Friday and a meeting was organised with the students, senior staff and the principal on Monday and student concerns were discussed.”

Halton council’s executive member for education, Cllr Tom McInerney, said the merger was carried out for the benefit of pupils.

He said: “Since the amalgamation, results have been better.

“There was a consultation period and there was a huge amount of support for the proposals.

“Pupils should be seeing a big improvement. There is now only one board so more funds can be put into learning.”