Headteachers urged to show compassion for Youth Strike for Climate absences

Inspired by the actions of 16-year-old Greta Thumberg in Sweden last summer, this year up to 70,000 schoolchildren in 270 towns and cities worldwide have taken part in ‘Fridays For Future’ to demand that politicians take action to confront the Climate Emergency.

Islanders protesting at climate march

Isle of Wight Green Party’s parliamentary candidate, Vix Lowthion, who is also a Freshwater Parish Councillor and Green Party spokesperson for Education shares this latest news. Ed


Vix Lowthion, education spokesperson for the Green Party, has written to Isle of Wight school head teachers to ask them to show compassion and consideration when authorising any pupil absences as a result of the Youth Strike for Climate planned for this Friday (15th February)

Inspired by the actions of 16-year-old Greta Thumberg in Sweden last summer, this year up to 70,000 schoolchildren in 270 towns and cities worldwide have taken part in ‘Fridays For Future’ to demand that politicians take action to confront the Climate Emergency.

12 years to limit global warming
The United Nations IPCC report last year made it clear that we have only 12 years left to limit global warming to a rise of only 1.5 degrees Celsius – or the consequences for the planet will be impossible to tackle.

Youth Strike 4 Climate
On Friday, 15th February, schoolchildren in the UK are planning to take part in the first nationwide Youth Strike 4 Climate, with events planned in towns and cities across the country.

Vix Lowthion said,

“I hope that our head teachers can understand how important the future of our planet is, particularly for our young people. It is their future which is at stake, and whilst they cannot yet vote that does not mean that they must be silent.

“Action on ‘Fridays for Future’ has recently seen 30,000 Belgian teenagers on strike to demand action on climate action, and I fully recognise their sense of urgency.”

Climate gathering
She added,

“It’s worth bringing to your attention that Isle of Wight campaigners will also be gathering on Saturday 2nd March in St Thomas’ Square, Newport at 12.30pm (a weekend opportunity to demonstrate outside of school time) and Extinction Rebellion IW will be very happy to welcome young people and their families to join them on that date.”

Further details on the UK Schools Strike on 15th February can be found on the Fridays for Future Website or emailing youthstrike4climate@gmail.com


Letter sent to all the 11-18 secondary schools on the Isle of Wight.

Dear Head Teacher,

Regarding ‘Youth Strike 4 Climate’ – a planned school strike in the UK by young people who are demanding action on climate change, Friday 15th February.

You may have seen coverage in the national press over the weekend as schoolchildren in the UK are planning to take part in the first nationwide Youth Strike 4 Climate, with events planned in over 40 towns and cities across the country.

The strike is inspired by the actions of 16 year old Greta Thumberg in Sweden, which has resulted in up to 70,000 schoolchildren in 270 towns and cities worldwide taking part in ‘Fridays For Future’. Young people from Brisbane to Brussels are demanding that politicians take action to confront the Climate Emergency. The United Nations IPCC report last year made it clear that we have only 12 years left to limit global warming to a rise of only 1.5 degrees Celsius – or the consequences for the planet will be dire. Desertification, sea level rise and a huge loss of habitats will be economically and ecologically damaging, particularly for the next generations.

I know that you will encounter students asking about the Youth Strike 4 Climate and I ask that you can show compassion and consideration when authorising any pupil absences as a result of their action. The front page of the Sunday Express (10.2.19) “Head Teachers Support Pupil Strike” quotes a spokesperson from the National Head Teachers Association (NAHT) as showing support for the strike, stating “When you get older pupils making an informed decision, that kind of thing needs to be applauded. Society makes leaps forward when people are prepared to take action. Schools encourage students to develop a wider understanding of the world around them. A day of activity like this could be an important and valuable life experience.”

I hope that you can understand how important the future of our planet is, particularly for our young people. It is their future which is at stake, and whilst they cannot yet vote that does not mean that they must be silent. Action on ‘Fridays for Future’ has recently seen 30,000 Belgian teenagers demanding their government takes action on climate change. Whilst politicians and world leaders continue to avoid commitment to significant action, the sense of urgency displayed by the younger generation is understandable.

It’s worth bringing to your attention that Isle of Wight campaigners will also be gathering on Saturday 2nd March in St Thomas’ Square, Newport at 12.30pm (a weekend opportunity to demonstrate outside of school time) and Extinction Rebellion IW will be very happy to welcome young people and their families to join them on that date.

Further details on the UK Schools Strike on 15th February can be found at www.fridaysforfuture.org or emailing youthstrike4climate@gmail.com

Yours sincerely,

Vix Lowthion, Freshwater Parish Council and Green Party spokesperson for Education

Monday, 11th February, 2019 8:33am

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Filed under: Education, Environment, Green Issues, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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11 Comments on "Headteachers urged to show compassion for Youth Strike for Climate absences"

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mariner58
The simple answer is ‘No’, a strike is a withdrawal of labour not a withdrawal of learning! I find it quite bizarre that a teacher and ,supposed, political champion of education, the first point of any child’s future, should advocate disputing a days schooling, or worse, disrupting the education of those who wish to attend classes for any reason. If their parents cannot take the time off… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
…which is precisely why I wrote to island headteachers to let them know about the action against Climate Change on Saturday March 2nd. So that our young people and families have a choice. The logic of your argument- that a strike can only be withdrawal of Labour – is that young people should remain powerless. The School Strike and Fridays for Future campaigns are led by teenagers… Read more »
mariner58
And my point is that there are plenty of opportunities for them to be heard without the need to disrupt their education or the education of other students who wish to attend Friday classes. Climate change is undoubtedly one of, possibly the major, issue for the next generation but I do find it odd, although perhaps I shouldn’t, that, as a teacher, you are happy to disrupt… Read more »
Vix Lowthion

Please point to the bit in my letter or in the piece above where I have said I want island pupils to disrupt classes and walk out? Because I haven’t. I actively spend all my free time campaigning to tackle the climate crisis, so that our young people shouldn’t have to.

mariner58
To state the obvious, lack of attendance disrupts education and if a large group skip lessons for any reason the others also suffer. This has been debated at length with reference to term time holidays. I’m not denying the importance of climate change campaigns but to ask Head Teachers to authorise pupil absences to attend ,effectively, political rallies on the Friday before half term is a very… Read more »
Vix Lowthion

This is a globally organised event – coming from the students themselves across the world. I suggest you step forward and campaign against Climate change on their behalf, and discuss with them about why they feel so strongly.

mariner58

Happily, then there’s no reason for Head Teachers to excuse them from attendance.

What I feel most strongly about, however, is that the free universal education we have in this country is a tremendous privilege and not, under any pretence, to be pushed aside for a ‘larger’ cause.

Something I never thought I would ever have to explain to a teacher!

truth
Children do need to be heard about this. Lots of children are learning about climate change through watching David Attenborough and they want to help. We should support them in this. In Australia, it has been Grandparents who have been accompanying the children to the protests because parents aren’t able to take time off work. Obviously, children need to be accompanied for their safety. But Greta is… Read more »
Geoff Brodie

I see Cllr Lowthion adds ‘Freshwater Parish Council’ to her letter above. Does this mean that she has the support of that Council for her call?

Steve Goodman

Good coverage by channel 4 news this evening (Channel 4+1 etc. for those who might have missed it. And/ or the related fracking item).

Steve Goodman
As reported (Guardian link to follow): Thousands of schoolchildren and young people have walked out of classes to join a UK-wide climate strike amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to tackle the escalating ecological crisis. Organisers said more than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall joined the strike, defying threats of detention to voice their… Read more »