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Pupils allowed to skip school to attend climate protests

Children in Edinburgh won't be punished for leaving classes to take part in demonstration.

Demonstration: Pupils gathered at the Scottish Parliament last month.
Demonstration: Pupils gathered at the Scottish Parliament last month. STV

Pupils will be allowed to skip school in order to take part in a global climate crisis protest without being punished.

Edinburgh City Council has agreed to allow pupils to leave classes to join protests planned outside the Scottish Parliament on Friday, March 15.

The action is part of global movement, Schools 4 Climate Action, and last month saw 15,000 pupils across the UK take part in demonstrations, including those in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Green councillor Mary Campbell put a motion forward at a council meeting on Tuesday morning, calling for "no punitive action" for pupils taking part in the 'strike'.

She said the action should be classed as "an authorised absence from school" as long as permission is granted from a parent or responsible adult.

Cllr Campbell said: "Climate breakdown is the defining issue of our age. The future will depend on how willing we all are to listen to children and young people whose futures are most at risk, versus some politicians or vested interests who want to delay or do nothing.

Protest: School pupils make their voices heard in George Square.
Protest: School pupils make their voices heard in George Square. STV

"So that it is why I want Edinburgh to show a lead and recognise the importance of the climate strikes, and support the children and young people taking part."

Conservative councillors challenged the plans and called for more consultation.

They said they "do not accept in principle that it is appropriate for young people to miss classes at school to make their views known, but would wholeheartedly encourage other avenues of debate".

However, the motion was passed by a majority of councillors at the meeting.

Education convener, Cllr Ian Perry, said: "We need to be behind this and we are going to allow authorised absence on a global day to allow young people to express an opinion.

"We have to help them make that statement or nothing will change. We would not be doing our duty."

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