Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to The Guardian, teachers are not allowing fliers advertising the student strike on school premises, but they are encouraging students to spread the word via word of mouth.
Pupils’ climate change strike threat poses dilemma for heads
Thousands of pupils set to be absent on 15 February, putting schools on the spot
Sun 10 Feb 2019 19.00 AEDT
Headteachers across the country will this week be faced with a tricky dilemma: should they allow their pupils to go on strike?
Thousands of schoolchildren are expected to absent themselves from school on Friday to take part in a series of coordinated protests drawing attention to climate change.
At a time when politicians fret that young people are failing to engage with the political process, a headteacher’s decision to take a hard line against the strikers could be counter-productive. But equally granting permission for a day off could set a dangerous precedent and lead to safeguarding issues, it is feared. Parents could be fined for taking a child out of school.
One would-be striker, Anna Taylor, 17, from north London, said her school had given her “mixed messages”.
“I chucked up a notice – ‘school strike in a few weeks’ – on the noticeboard in the common room and they wiped it off, said ‘you can’t actively publicise it in schools’ and ‘we’ll give you an unauthorised absence and detention if you strike’, but then they said ‘you can spread it by word of mouth and we do support your cause’.”
A template letter drawn up by Youth Strike 4 Climate, one of the groups supporting the network, for parents of striking children to give headteachers, states: “I’m aware of UK law that permits parents to only give permission for their child to miss school on medical grounds or in a few other cases, one of which is under ‘exceptional circumstances’. My view is that having only 12 years left to cut CO2 emissions by 50%, as per the latest UN IPCC report, is pretty dire and exceptional circumstances to find ourselves in. And it in this light that I’m giving my child permission.”
In my opinion teachers encouraging students to attend emotionally charged radical green political rallies which could turn violent is an unspeakable breach of trust.