Teachers should support skipping classes: union

Students protesting outside State Parliament. Photo: School Strike 4 Climate.

A WA teachers union head says teachers should be supportive of students striking and hopes schools can be flexible so that kids do not miss out on learning.

Student protesters said a lot of adults were not very supportive of them walking out of school every Friday to protest about climate change outside State Parliament.

The movement ‘school strike for climate’ began earlier this year as a part of the worldwide climate strike initiated by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year girl from Sweden.

The weekly Friday strikes started in July and the students had different events planned every week that led up to the massive strike on September 20.

State School Teacher Union WA senior vice president Paul Bridge said there were members, especially in humanities, that had not endorsed the school strikes.

“During school days we understand why [students] would do that, and we ask them to be more flexible in being able to make sure those kids don’t miss out on their learning,” he said.

Siobhan Sutton, a 15-year-old climate activist and organizing head of the SSFC group said she was very committed to her education but was more committed to seeing a change.

“School is not supportive, and teachers support varies from teacher to teacher but to an extent it is understandable,” she said.

Political figures from parliament had confronted them during the protest saying they didn’t know what they were actually doing and that they should leave it up to the government, she said.

Siobhan Sutton speaking at the University climate walkout. Photo: School Strike 4 Climate.

“I find this so ridiculous because strike actions are said to very be effective especially in the adult workplace, which is why governments have made it so hard for adults to strike,” Siobhan said.

She said there was a lot to be said about student striking being easier in comparison to adults striking and students should take advantage of this opportunity.

Global climate movement Perth 350 coordinator Bhaval Chandaria said they had heard and seen so many articles and social media posts where people have been negative towards what kids were doing.

“People and politicians especially during the big strikes earlier this year were making insulting comments about the children saying they don’t know what they are doing and that they are just out there to have the day off school,” she said.

 “I found this interesting as it revealed how disconnected some of these people are from what is of great concern to a lot of young people in Australia.

“Every time I meet a new student striker I’m amazed at how organised and passionate they are.”

Ms Sutton said they urged everyone to join in.

“Climate change is not an issue that will affect only us, we may be the generation that has to deal with the worst of the impacts, but everyone needs to step up and take a stance,” she said.