Hundreds of Sheffield school children strike in protest over climate change

School children went on strike for the second time in weeks calling for action on climate change – and warned there could be further walk-outs.

By Lee Peace
Friday, 15 March, 2019, 11:55

About 500 youngsters walked out of lessons today and headed for Sheffield Town Hall carrying banners and wearing t-shirts adorned with slogans  in protest at the mounting ecological crisis.

Sheffield Students protesting outside Sheffield Town Hall against the destruction of their future........Pic Steve Ellis

This was the second day of action, following a previous strike on February 15, and there are reports that young people are planning further walk-outs to take place once a month on a Friday.

Some pupils faced the threat of detention for taking part in the previous walk-out, but many said that further sanctions from their school will not put put them off making their voices heard.    

A 14-year-old High Storrs School pupil called Patrick said: “We are doing this because we are facing mass extinction from climate change but nobody seems to be listening.

Sheffield students protesting outside Sheffield Town Hall. Pic Steve Ellis

“I don't know of anyone using it (the strike) to just take a day off, everyone feels strongly about this. Even people who are not that interested in politics are aware of climate change and want to see action taken.

“If they lowered the voting age to 16 then we could get our point across in another way.”

Nathan Stradlee, aged 19, an engineering student at the University of Sheffield, said: “This is no longer a matter of think of your children, for us it is a matter of thinking of our future and this beautiful planet. 

“The key demands of the strike movement are that the government declare a climate emergency, respond appropriately to climate breakdown, ensure that the ecological crisis is covered in the school curriculum and ensure that the youth's voice is heard through consultation and by lowering the voting age to 16.”

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Students during the protest. Pic Steve Ellis

The strikes have left many school leaders wrestling with their conscience as they find themselves caught between their dual roles as teachers ensuring pupils stay in school and that of educators supporting youngsters’ interest in world affairs. 

A number of pupils from Silverdale School in Bents Green took part in the strike action. 

Students were allowed to attend so long as they had written parental permission beforehand.   

Those who did not but still walked out of school faced sanctions for “defiance and truancy.”

Sheffield Students protesting outside Sheffield Town Hal. Pic Steve Ellis

The movement started in August when Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, held a solo protest  outside the Swedish parliament, which inspired thousands of others to walk out of school in Belgium and Australia. 

Now, up to 70,000 school children hold protests in 270 towns and cities worldwide each week, including many in the UK.