The union of headteachers has backed pupil plans to walk off their lessons in a “strike” to protest climate change. The mass strike, organised by teenagers and called UK Youth Strike For Climate, is aiming for thousands of students to put down their work and leave their classes this Friday between 11 am and 2 pm. Pupils from schools in 27 towns and cities across the UK including Cardiff, Brighton, Exeter and Glasgow have vowed to leave their lessons – and their decision has been backed by headteachers. The National Association of Head Teachers said in a statement: “When you get older pupils making an informed decision, that kind of thing needs to be applauded.
Similar protests have been held in individual UK cities and other countries, including Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands, where tens of thousands of children refused to attend school so that they could take part in rallies to raise awareness about threats to the environment from global warming. But Friday will be the first nationwide day of action.
Organisers were inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who last August refused to attend school so that she could protest outside the Swedish parliament building, an action that shot her to global prominence. How many children will take to the streets on Friday is open to debate? More than 10,000 students skipped school to protest in Belgium. A similar number went on strike in the Netherlands. Supporters suggested they expected a turnout in the low thousands for this Friday’s protest in the UK but believed the second day of strike action – on 15 March and in coordination with similar protests in other countries – would be considerably larger as the movement took hold.