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School student climate change strikes see thousands take to streets

Around 125 protests have been held in towns and cities across the UK, organisers from the UK Student Climate Network said.

UK students protest over climate change (Yui Mok/PA)
UK students protest over climate change (Yui Mok/PA)

Thousands of students have joined protests across the country calling on the Government to take action on climate change and better educate children on the risks it poses.

Organisers from the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) said around 125 protests have been held in towns and cities across the UK.

Demonstrators took to social media to share images and footage of students gathering in London, Brighton, Portsmouth, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Manchester and Cardiff.

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Students take part in the strike in Canterbury, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Young people carried placards reading “climate crisis not climate change”, “there’s no plan B”, and “if you won’t act like adults we will”.

In Bristol, schoolchildren marched against proposals to expand the city’s airport.

Students protesting in central London gathered in Parliament Square before marching on the Department for Education.

The demonstrations have centred around sending a “teach the future” message to ministers, urging them to reform the curriculum to include more material on climate change.

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Students protest in Westminster (Yui Mok/PA)

Jake Woodier, a spokesman for the UKSCN, said the curriculum around climate change was “very limited” and “often pigeonholed into a few hours of geography and science”.

He said activists wanted to see a “golden thread” of climate change teaching across all school subjects.

The protests in London would “drive the message home to the heart of where education policy and governance is in this country”, Mr Woodier added.

“It is really important to deliver that message direct to that source.”

The day of protest action coincides with a commitment from the Labour Party to make climate change “a core part of the curriculum from primary school onwards”.

The Government said climate change already features in teaching for subjects such as geography and science.

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Students take part in Westminster (Aaron Chown/PA)

Similar large-scale youth protests took place in February and March this year, with students “striking” from school to take part.

Extinction Rebellion, which organised protests in London last month, said it is not involved in Friday’s event but supports the cause.

Mr Woodier said the protests showed their message was “continuing to build momentum”.

“These demonstrations have come in the middle of exam time, yet we’ve still seen incredible numbers turn up across the UK,” he said.

The student protesters were backed by Green MP Caroline Lucas, who wrote on Twitter: “Their moral authority in making case that older generation is destroying their future can only be answered by urgent climate action.

“Declaring an emergency isn’t enough – we need action now.”

The protests are part of a “decentralised movement” inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.

Greta began “striking” from school on Fridays to lobby the Swedish parliament on climate change in August 2018.

Her protest sparked similar strikes across Europe, North America and Australia.

Protesters in 110 countries were expected to take part in Friday’s strike.

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UK students protesting in Cambridge (Tom Dorrington/PA)

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “It is important that pupils are taught about climate change, which is why it is in the national curriculum as part of science and geography in both primary and secondary school.

“The curriculum also includes the knowledge pupils need to help address climate change in the future.

“For example, in design and technology pupils are taught to consider the impact of the products they design on individuals, society and the environment.

“Schools have the autonomy to go into as much depth on these subjects as they see fit.”

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