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Friday, February 15, 2019

Striking school pupils outshine bickering politicians

As the Times reports, the decision by many school pupils to go on strike today is causing some controversy. The paper says that some parents are undecided about whether to allow their children to break the rules to campaign, while others have accused schools of withdrawing permission under pressure from local authorities. Some schools that had told parents that children could have a day off were told by councils to take a harder stance:

They say that parents could be fined £60 if they permit their child to take unauthorised absence. Some pupils said that teachers had turned a blind eye or given tacit approval to preparations for the Youth Strike 4 Climate marches, even though many head teachers refused to authorise absences. In some schools pupils had been allowed to design banners to take on today’s climate change strikes. Others spent yesterday writing letters to head teachers explaining why they intended to walk out of school at 11am.

Nevertheless, as the BBC report, events are planned for Birmingham, Hereford and Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as Hay-on-Wye in Powys. There, children from a number of local schools will march through the town before meeting councillors to call for more cycle lanes and increased use of renewable energy.

The Times adds that pupils are expected to walk out of school in about 60 areas to attend marches, rallies and litter picks:

University students and adult activists have pledged to protest alongside the children. Some said that this was misguided and described the day of action as a “children’s crusade”.

Holly Gillibrand, 13, who has already walked out of school on Fridays five times, is co-ordinating strikes for her local area, Fort William. She is using social media to spread the word and putting up posters. She says that her teachers are supportive.

She said: “We are not impressed by our leaders’ inability to treat the climate and ecological crisis as the crisis it is, and people’s aversion to the action that is needed to limit catastrophic climate and ecological breakdown is depressing.”

She said she was encouraged by “some incredibly dedicated and passionate adults” such as the wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham and the anthropologist Jane Goodall.

Holly, who is in her second year at Lochaber High School, first became involved with the global protest in September last year. She said: “I have loved the environment and nature since I can remember and this has just grown into a passion to protect and conserve the natural world.”

Personally, I think that this sort of action is a vital part of the education process. Schools should not just be about cramming pupils for exams but also preparing them for future and alerting them to the big issues that we all face on a daily basis, so that they can make up their own minds on what they think and want to do about them. Schools should be enablers as well as educators.

The likes of Holly and all the other pupils who are leading this action day, form a startling contrast to the braying, bickering politicians in Westminster and the bully-boy tactics of climate change-deniers like Donald Trump.
School Parliaments where the pupils have a say in the running of the school should be encouraged. Yes adults are navel gazing whilst the planet that we all live on is being wrecked by greed, ignorance etc. They will inherit the mess that adults are bringing about,more power to them.
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