Hundreds of pupils ‘go on strike’ for climate change

The pupils ‘went on strike’ as part of a worldwide campaign of direct action by young people, which was also staged in Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks.

Students from many different schools across town converged on the railway station at 3.15pm, waving imaginative banners and chanting slogans.

They walked up the northbound carriageway of the High Street, high-fiving passing motorists, and then convened at the Big Bridge for speeches.

John Mulford of The Judd School was one of the young people to address the crowds. He told the Times: “A lot of people have been coming up to me and asking: what’s the point, what are we going to do as individuals that’s going to make a difference?

“But the last time we were here [in February] there were only four people over but we were in the Times of Tonbridge and all over Facebook, with over 100 comments, discussions sparked around climate change.”

He added: “The UK is one of the the most climate-aware countries in the world – 85 per cent of people said they are concerned about climate change.

“We are so lucky to have that, and I think that movements like ours helped to create that awareness beyond politics as a transcendent issue.


“In a lot of countries it’s seen as something only for the left or the rich, but as you can see from all the people that are here today, it’s something that’s going to affect us all.”

Anouska Tripathi, who was also one of the speakers, said: “We need to start taking action now, we need to educate all these people around us.

“We need local action, we need national action, anything that we can do to help.”

Ten-year-old Danny Eisawy led a demonstration outside Sussex Road Primary School earlier this year, and was brandishing a placard saying Stop Frying Our Planet on Friday, with a picture of Donald Trump with a frying pan.

He said: “I am here to try and stop the human-made disaster so I can have a future where I can breathe free, live free and have a life, not constantly worrying about climate change.”

There has been criticism of the young people for taking time out of school but in Tonbridge they had left their direct action until late in the day in order not to significantly disturb their studies. By comparison, the demonstration in Tunbridge Wells began at 10.30am.

While most schools were tacitly supportive, Tonbridge Grammar School told the Times that any pupils joining the demonstration would be deemed to have taken an ‘unauthorised absence’.

A spokesperson for the girls’ school said: “We recognise the issue of climate change is one that many students feel passionately about but we do not condone the loss of learning time in school to support that.

“We have communicated with parents confirming that any absence during the school day to join a protest will be unauthorised.”

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