A teacher who quit his job to help stop climate change with environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion is urging more teachers to do the same.
Former RE and philosophy teacher Tim Jones, 36, who quit his £39,000-a-year job in a secondary school in South London at the end of last term, is also calling for pupils to "send a message" to the government about climate change by "going on strike" and refusing to sit their GCSE and A-level exams.
Mr Jones, who quit teaching to dedicate more time to the group for which he is coordinator of the Extinction Rebellion Educators wing, urged teachers to leave their jobs unless the government takes immediate action on climate change. He said: “If teachers could organise themselves, they could collectively make a statement.
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“If more people do not stop doing what they see as normal and start doing something more radical then we’re all in serious trouble.”
Extinction Rebellion (XR) is calling for “dramatic action” over the next decade, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2025, and is staging demonstrations in London and across the world this week.
Mr Jones, who was arrested for obstructing a road during XR protests in April, said he was now living “on the generosity of friends and family”. He admitted that, unlike some teachers, he had been in an easy position to quit his job because he didn’t have a family to support, or a mortgage. And he said quitting the job might not be the right thing for all teachers, and that professionals would still be needed in schools to look after children.
But he added: “I would encourage teachers [to leave] if they felt it was the right thing to do – those people who feel they are able to should do something. There could still be sufficient numbers to make a strong statement.”
Calling on pupils not to sit their GCSEs and A levels, Mr Jones said "it would send out a message if lots of students did it".
He said: "It's a radical idea, I know, but if students feel they are from a comfortable background and are not concerned about their immediate future – then it would say something to the government.
"If I was a student from a comfortable background, I would get together with my friends and say we're not going to do these exams which are meaningless, but we're going to go on strike.
Mr Jones said he spray-painted the Department for Education's Sanctuary Buildings in Westminster and poured fake blood on Downing Street.
Former primary school teacher Shulamit Morris-Evans, from London, who also quit her job at the end of last term, told Tes: “A sense of time running out compelled me [to leave teaching] because I was suddenly aware of how much needs to be done in so little time.”
The DfE has been contacted for a comment.