#Manchester councillors asked to explain position on #SchoolStrike4Climate #climate

Following up from this morning’s story about Manchester City Council failing to meet a deadline to respond to a request for information about its cstance on the climate strikes, comes this:  Parents of children who are taking part in these strikes are asking their councillors their position.  Whether you are a parent or not, I urge you to contact your councillors. You can find out who they are here.

After the two (excellent!) letters, both published with the permission of their authors., I publish the text of a Freedom of Information Act request sent this morning to Chorlton High School.

Birgitte Johnson  letter to Councillors

We are getting in touch as we would like Manchester Council to follow Edinburgh Councils lead in supporting our children to strike school this friday by authorising their absence and not threatening to penalise parents if their children wish to strike. See here the article demonstrating how Edinburgh is supporting the school strikes .

We have been told by my daughters’ school, Chorlton High that they are not able to authorise her absence this Friday for the strike and that any potential further unauthorised absences (strikes) will result in a penalty fine.

We are facing a climate emergency and as Cllr Mary Campbell from Edinburgh stated ‘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.’

As a city that prides itself on revolutionary change and having recently witnessed the celebrations and tributes to Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragette movement I believe the city council needs to show our city’s children that we truly respect and honour their voice and support their right to demonstrate in the face of a climate emergency.

We are urging Manchester City Council to authorise absence if children wish to strike and leave school premises if the parents will be responsible for the child or young person for safe guarding purposes. Furthermore promise not to penalise the parents of children who strike school in protest at our governments lack of action on climate change.

Our government needs to be reminded that these young peoples futures are at stake.

Adults have let them down. They should not need to take this course of action but this is the only way our children can collectively make their feelings known.

Around the world children and young people feel they must and we should be proud of our city’s children who want to be part of this protest.

From Rose Arnold
I am writing to ask you as my councillors what your position(s) are on the climate strikes?
Manchester Council has taken an aggressive approach by contacting all the schools to tell them not to authorise absence for attending the climate strike. Now Chorlton High is following your lead by threatening parents with fines.
Today the news includes the story that in 25 years Britain might well run out of water. It is morally wrong to stand in the way of these children and young people fighting for their futures. They face destruction, death and horror. They need to know that we were all fighting too, not standing in their way.
I would very much appreciate a response as to your views on this matter and ideas about what could be done to move to a supportive position such as Edinburgh have.
Rose Arnold
Text of FoIA sent this morning.
Dear Sir/Madam,
I am writing to request the following information
  • Copies of all correspondence between Chorlton High School and Manchester City Council concerning the “School Strikes” that took place on February 15th and March 15th, up to March 18th 2019.
  • The responses sent to parents who enquired about the school strike (obviously with any specific information  that would identify either parent or student redacted!!)
  • Copies of all memos/emails sent to teachers who enquired to the Head/Management Team  (obviously with anything that would identify individual teachers or students redacted)
  • Copies of all advice sent ‘in general’ to parents about the school strikes, up to and  including March 18th 2019
Please consider this a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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1 Response to #Manchester councillors asked to explain position on #SchoolStrike4Climate #climate

  1. Stephen Pennells says:

    Hmmmmmm….. I write as someone who isn’t involved in education and aware things may have changed. If I am wrong I apologise, but…

    Having worked some years ago at CHS, I appreciate the Head hasn’t got the easiest of positions with some parents on one side and pressure from HMG on the other. This isn’t simply a case of “children should be in school learning what is in the syllabus dictated by US and not out meeting dangerous wooly-hatted socialists who want people power”. There are implications in terms of attendance %s and it may also be that the school suffers because some parents feel they can afford to take kids out for holidays when they are cheaper. This won’t be unique to CHS, but they may feel it as a high-profile school.

    This is not to suggest the YPs shouldn’t take action and of course if the City Council and their MPs (for whom they will be able to vote in a couple of years) were to actually pull their fingers out, meet them, and take meaningful, sustained, and sincere action as their allies, they would quite legitimately have reasons not to continue with strikes. Actions on the part of MCC could include formal declaration of “Climate Emergency” with radical actions and a clear plan to prioritise this over other “growth” projects- getting GMPF to divest from fossil fuel industries and winding back on the airport are two areas they could look at immediately. MPs could similarly raise the topic repeatedly, calling out government failures and giving it a mandate for vigourous action.

    Similarly if every youthstriker were to go to visit their MP and councillors at surgeries and to engage them in individual, sustained and specific correspondence it might have a positive effect.

    And perhaps the “education otherwise” approach needs to be explored fully. Writing persuasively used to be part of the English curriculum at CHS and being properly informed about climate science, mathematical issues relating to a carbon economy, religious and moral issues, reading about it in Modern Foreign Languages (easy with the internet), the geographical and historical implications of climate chaos (think Idai)… can all be called upon for education beyond the text-book.

    But ultimately, it may be that, as the slogan on the Pankhurst memorial reminds us “Deeds not Words” are needed. I’m not suggesting they start throwing themselves in front of the King’s horse or a tram, but bunging up the works of the system sacrificially may demand sacrifice (financial) as an indication of sincerity.

    In the mean time old sods like me can indeed ask our Cllrs. what they are doing to support the call of the young people to take the revised warnings of climate change as critically important and point out to them that with LA elections coming up on 2nd of May a third of them could find a real threat with a lot of active canvassing not turning out so support them. Whinging about Tory imposed austerity may indeed be true, but if they are negligent in office on this they cannot expect to command support from those who think it is the big issues of our time- even more than Brexit.

    The 2nd.of May is sufficiently far away for all candidates standing for reelection and currently on the Council to have made it quite clear where they stand on this by having already taken a stand.

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