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Save the world – bunk off school


LAST week Edinburgh’s state schools reopened after the summer break. Before the next academic year begins in August 2020, the city’s pupils will be out of class on 77 weekdays, plus of course every Saturday and Sunday – ample opportunity, one would think, to engage in whatever activities, and support whichever causes take their childish fancies. However, the first week of the new term ended with news that the little darlings are to be further indulged.

Earlier this year Edinburgh Council allowed schoolchildren who had obtained parental permission to ‘strike’ during both March and May on climate demonstration days. Now the council’s education committee has formally granted one day of absence per year to participate in further climate protests – the first Scottish education authority to enshrine bunking-off for an approved political cause.

The motion was proposed by the ruling SNP-Labour coalition. Ahead of the vote, the Conservatives’ education spokesman expressed the eminently sensible view that ‘if pupils wish to protest then this should be outwith the school day’.

Subsequently, however, it was reported that the Tories on the education committee were amongst those who approved one day of authorised absence. The only dissenting members were the two Greens who, being zealots for their cause, naturally complained that one day per year is nowhere near enough to protest against the ‘climate emergency’. According to Green councillor Steve Burgess: ‘To place an arbitrary limit on it at this stage does not appear to be responding appropriately to young people.’

Similarly minded children and parents need not worry. Andy Gray, Edinburgh’s head of schools and lifelong learning, confirms there will be no penalty for taking off more time to protest: ‘We are not going to punish children for this activity but what we are saying is that it’s definitely an unauthorised absence’,  which tacitly condones pupils taking additional ‘strike’ days.

It seems the education authority will turn a blind eye to any number of truancies in the name of ‘climate emergency’ provided there is parental permission. Presumably a parent giving approval does not have to claim, like the mother of Greta Thunberg, the Patron Saint of School Strikes, that their climate alarmist child ‘can see carbon dioxide with the naked eye’. 

One pupil who has no extra-sensory power that we know of, but who almost certainly will skip school more often than one day per year, is 15-year-old Dylan Hamilton. Being an organiser for Scottish Youth Climate Strike (SYCS), for Dylan ‘climate crisis is the biggest threat to humanity, with the group most affected being children . . . allowing us to protest once a year is simply not acceptable and will not let us get across how serious this is to the people in power’. Far from harming his education, Hamilton believes that by brandishing placards and chanting inane slogans ‘we learn politics, organisation, science, independence and more about society than we’ve ever been taught’.

Clearly unimpressed by his school education, young Dylan evidently has been taught by Extinction Rebellion: in the words of co-founder Roger Hallam, ‘teenagers are sh*tting themselves’ because of impending apocalypse. By coincidence, last week the BBC allowed Roger to exhibit the scale of his derangement.

Also creating additional laundry is another SYCS activist Sandy Boyd. The 15-year-old Edinburgh pupil is ‘imploring this council to allow us authorised absence to pressurise governments . . . the educational value of taking part in these events is massive . . . we will keep doing them until we see change’.

In politically correct Scotland, both Dylan Hamilton and Sandy Boyd should have big futures finger-wagging from on high. For now, incumbent politicians pander to the pair’s adolescent anguish. ‘There’s no doubt if I was at school I would be doing exactly what Sandy is doing,’ sympathised Ian Perry, Labour convenor of Edinburgh Council’s education committee.

Council committee members from other parties also avidly align themselves with Edinburgh’s misguided youth. Vice-convenor Alison Dickie (SNP) is ‘utterly proud of our young people . . . getting actively involved in real-life global issues, such as action on climate breakdown’, while for Mary Campbell (Greens) ‘the future will depend on how willing we all are to listen to children and young people whose futures are most at risk’.

To repeat: someone elected to govern Scotland’s capital city believes our ‘future will depend on how willing we all are to listen to children’. What is wrong with these people, supposedly responsible adults, who genuflect to impressionable teenage doomsayers?

This year’s Festival Fringe is about to end. Unfortunately, thanks to this daft decision by local politicians, August is no longer the only month in which there will be juvenile attention seekers on the streets of Edinburgh.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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