Edinburgh pupils will not be punished for joining climate-change protests

Councillors ‘proud of celebrating rather than stifling young people’s positive energy’

Tes Reporter

Edinburgh pupils will not be punished for joining climate-change protests

Pupils in Edinburgh will be able to take part in climate strikes without being punished.

City of Edinburgh Council agreed today that children absent in support of the action on Friday 15 March will not be penalised for doing so, as long as they have the permission of parents or carers.

The strikes are part of a growing global movement started by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg last August. They aim to highlight the scale of the climate crisis and the need for urgent action. 

Quick read: Thousands of pupils strike over climate change

Impact: Education secretary says strike could increase teachers' workload

Opinion: 'Climate change is already taught in schools'

Councillor Mary Campbell, who put forward the motion, said: "Climate breakdown is the defining issue of our age.

"The future will depend on how willing we all are to listen to children and young people whose futures are most at risk, versus some politicians or vested interests who want to delay or do nothing.

"So that it is why I want Edinburgh to show a lead and recognise the importance of the climate strikes and support the children and young people taking part.”

She added: "I am glad that the education committee passed this motion today and I believe it shows how seriously we take both climate breakdown and the voice of our children."

It is believed the move by the local authority could be the first of its kind in Scotland.

The continuing action involves children taking off Fridays to gather outside the Scottish Parliament for more to be done on climate breakdown.

Such moves have gathered momentum in the UK since the start of the year but concerns have been raised about how schools and education authorities might handle absences for strikes.

A global day of action is planned for the March 15, involving 50 nations.

The motion was backed by the council's vice-convener for education, Alison Dickie.

She said: "I am utterly proud of our young people. There can be no more powerful learning experience than getting actively involved in real-life global issues, such as action on climate breakdown.

"I'm proud too that we are choosing to celebrate, rather than stifle the positive energy of our young people, and it showcases the very caring and responsible citizens we are shaping across our schools."

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