DOZENS of students from across Oxford are expected to go ‘on strike’ to make a statement about climate change next Friday.

Primary, secondary, sixth form and university students are set to be involved, with children as young as four missing lessons.

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran, who is also the Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson on education, has endorsed the strike, which is believed to involve at least seven of the city’s schools and Oxford University.

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Demonstrators are set to gather in Carfax from 11am on Friday morning, with around 20 students from one primary school alone due to join the strike, led by their headteacher.

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Moran set to join protesters at climate demo​

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But at least one other Oxford headteacher has warned pupils not to walk out of classes to take part.

The Oxford Times:

Commenting on the initiative, which is part of a nationwide day of action, Ms Moran said: “Climate change is the biggest issue facing our planet, yet it is consistently ignored by Parliament and Government despite pressure from MPs like myself and Caroline Lucas repeatedly trying to get it out on the agenda.

“I support the students in their strike, though I feel saddened that they feel they have to do this to raise the profile of this issue and hope the schools see this in the positive light it is meant. They have my assurance I will continue to champion their cause.”

When asked if she had any reservations about students missing lessons, the former teacher declined to comment further.

Oxford’s other MP, Anneliese Dodds, did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has since taken a balanced position on the issue. 

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Participant numbers are difficult to gauge, but Cheney School sixth former Ella Mann, one of the main organisers from ‘Youth Strike 4 Climate’, anticipates a minimum of 40 student attendees, without including primary school children.

Miss Mann believes university students could swell the ranks significantly. She said: "I am striking for my right to a future free from war and mass migration caused by famine, drought and flood. I want to show the government that I am sick of them ignoring the concerns of my generation simply because we are not the ones voting."

Around 150 people have said they are ‘interested’ in going on Facebook, with a further 70 clicking attending, at the time of going to print.

A global student strike, planned for March 15, could see students in Oxford walk out of class again.

Both actions are likely to cause outrage from some, with national rules meaning parents can be prosecuted for unauthorised absences, unless advance permission is given or children are ill.

Windmill Primary School headteacher Lynn Knapp said: “Windmill has decided to join the Strike and as a result the children will be doing a day of learning linked to global warming raising awareness about this important issue affecting their future.

“I think it is really important that as a school we teach children that they can create change by making a stand about a subject that they feel strongly about.”

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She added that the school’s response, prompted by parents, will see children with banners stand at the front gate to raise awareness and that she would take a delegation of around 20 to join the main picket line.

But Cherwell School head Chris Price warned that students should not walk out of class.

He said: "We are aware that many of our students are very concerned about climate change.

"We do encourage them to think and to question the world around them and I am proud of the way Cherwell students involve themselves in such issues.

"At the same time, however, we do have a responsibility as a school and therefore we wouldn’t authorise absence in this case.”

The Oxford Times:

Parent Anna Ratcliff, 45, said she would take her four-year-old, Dylan, out of Larkrise Primary for Friday’s event.

She said she believed parents from St Mary St John Primary were also set to take similar action and added: “It’s a massively important issue that is going to affect kids more, so it’s only right that they get to have a say.”

Mrs Ratcliffe’s other son Lewis, seven, who is also likely to strike, said he was concerned about the plight of polar bears and floods from melting ice leaving people homeless.

Maya von Hauenschild, 17, from Cheney School, added: “We’re taking the lead as young people and I hope the government can acknowledge all the strikes happening all across the country and start changing. It’s so important as the new generation for us to have our voices heard. It’s our future at stake.”

Oxford Spires Academy student Mati Warwick, 16, said she was planning to strike with classmates.

Arune Hopestone and Robin Lyster, 17, from Matthew Arnold School, said jointly: "As young people, we are going to be worst affected by climate breakdown and our government is not doing enough to combat it.

“We want to show that young people are not docile or disinterested when it comes to issues that directly effect us, even if we can't vote."

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City Councillor Tom Hayes, board member for environment, stressed that climate change is a huge problem, that children ‘will see the most dramatic climate-related changes cascade through their lives’ and that ‘too many are sitting back’.

He also said protest is an effective way to create change – but asked who students were hoping to influence, what specifically they wanted and how their protest was helping.

But the school governor cautioned: “This protest could turn off the very people we need to get more concerned about climate. Strikes without a clear and specific purpose which are unlikely to be effective can risk alienating the very people that environmentalists need to convince to change their behaviour.

“There will be politicians who will praise the strikes but they will be populists without a clear vision or strategy for getting there. With just 12 years left to limit climate change catastrophe, populist politicians cannot be trusted to take the steps needed or to persuade a majority to change our entire economic and social system.”