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3rd Jul, 2022

Parents urge teachers to support pupils who skip class to join climate protests

ECO-FRIENDLY parents are urging teachers in Warwickshire to support pupils who skip class to join global ‘Youth for Climate’ strikes.

Parents for Future Warwickshire has written to schools heads in the county calling on them to respond positively and not punish pupils who take part in the demonstrations during school time to demand action against a ‘climate emergency’.

The movement has received support in Warwickshire from a growing number of parents, many of who have joined their children at the strikes, which have taken place in both Leamington and Stratford districts.

Pupils from some schools have reportedly received detention for leaving school premises, and others banned from attending at all.

The letter read: “We recognise that the school strikes are a controversial action and understand the arguments against them. We appreciate that there are serious issues regarding safeguarding that must be taken into consideration. However, we also believe that young people need to be supported to voice their fear and anger. We believe that taking part in climate demonstrations has positive impacts for the mental health of teenagers, and that adults have a responsibility to support them.

“We are writing to you today to ask that you carefully consider your response to children in your school community wishing to take part in these demonstrations. Clearly, we understand that you will not be able to grant them permission. However, if they can articulate their reasons, and have their parents’ permission, our experience suggests they really appreciate being supported and recognised. We feel it sends an unhelpful message to punish them for making this choice.”

The letter goes on to suggest schools let MPs know the impact climate strikes have on attendance records.

No schools in Warwick district contacted by The Observer responded to our request for a comment.

Warwickshire National Education Union (NEU) division secretary Emma Mort said members supported the strikes and opposed punishments such as detentions and exclusions.

But she added some schools could be faced with a predicament

“Maybe schools feel like they are compromised, as they can’t be seen to be condoning students not being in schools, as much as they might want to support the students’ aims.”

NEU is proposing schools incorporate lessons on climate change into the curriculum.

The youth climate protests were inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who protested outside Swedish parliament during school classes.

Her demands called for MPs to take measures to reduce carbon emissions, as per the Paris Agreement, with thousands of pupils across the world following suit.

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