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UK Climate Strike
Photography Peter Yeung

Teachers say kids cutting school for climate strikes shouldn’t be punished

The mass youth protests continue

Children are the future – aside from being astute at every meme imaginable, they’re leading the current political revolution. Now, school teachers are throwing their support behind the next generation, uniting in the belief that students who have been skipping school to protest climate change should not be punished.

The National Education Union (NEU) has voted for a motion calling on school staff to stand with the student protesters, pledging “to support student defence campaigns as necessary.”

The NEU’s decision at the union’s annual conference comes after suggestions from a head teachers' union leader that students should face detention and exclusions, and despite the Department of Education calling on students not to miss classes.

In an act of solidarity with the students, NEU delegates have demanded that a union executive put pressure on the government to do more to tackle climate change, and to prioritise the issue on the school curriculum.

Thousands of students in dozens of countries have been missing classes to take to the streets and demand action against climate change, inspired by teen activist Greta Thunberg.

“If no one else is going to, we have to do it,” said Kemy, 16, a student from Woodhouse College in north London told Dazed at a previous Friday strike. “We’ve been neglected and ignored by older people – they’re not doing anything about climate change. The Paris climate agreement is not working.”

“You read all the time that another animal has become extinct, another amount of rainforest the size of the UK has been cut down,” Taiko Bennett, 17, who came up from Southampton to the strike also told Dazed. “We’re beyond the point of tired of hearing it. Everyone here is no longer tired and apathetic – we’re angry.”

Extinction Rebellion has been staging acts of peaceful civil disobedience in London this week, bringing traffic to a standstill in central locations such as Waterloo Bridge, Marble Arch, Piccadilly Circus, Parliament Square, and Oxford Circus.

More than 100 people were arrested overnight in an effort to clear Waterloo Bridge, but protesters show no signs of letting up. The protesters intend to continue occupying the streets of London until April 29. Friday climate strikes also continue.