Climate change: Spare pupil protestors detentions, say teachers

Pupils shouldn’t be penalised for walking out of lessons because right to protest is a ‘democratic’ right,' teachers plan to tell conference

Dave Speck

Dave Speck

pupil protest

Teachers are calling for pupil climate protestors to escape detention and exclusions over their unauthorised absences while “on strike” in February.

Thousands of pupils across the country walked out of lessons in a protest that politicians are not doing enough about climate change. 

And the NEU teaching union’s annual conference in Liverpool next week will debate a motion calling on the government to do more against climate change, including raising awareness through the school curriculum and recognising that every school should have zero-carbon emissions by 2030. 

Read: ‘The climate strikes threaten the safety of our pupils’

Read: 'It's short-sighted to dismiss the pupil strikes'

Joint-general secretary Mary Bousted told a pre-conference briefing this morning: “It’s absolutely the number one issue and it’s wonderful to see young people so energised. We support the cause absolutely, but we couldn’t support them walking out of lessons because that could have put those young people in danger.”

However, an amendment to the motion by the Coventry branch of the NEU calls on the union’s executive to “oppose any reprisals against students taking action to fight climate change, such as detentions and exclusions.”

It states: “The rights to strike and protest are fundamental democratic rights for students and workers alike. To call on schools not to take action against students. We pledge to support student defence campaigns as necessary.”  

The conference will also include a new survey on asbestos, and will feature a fringe meeting about air pollution around schools where the headline speaker will be Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, whose nine-year-old daughter died of an asthma attack in South London.


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