Oxford school children protested against lack of climate action in a small-scale ‘picnic protest’, last Friday.
The students gathered at Bonn Square at 11am then walked to stage a sit-in outside County Hall.
Many turned up with posters expressing warnings, including “Stop Denying We Are Dying”, “Frack off! We want a green planet”, “There is no Planet B”, and “No Future. Why go to school?”
Scheduled for the final day before half-term, many students arrived in school uniform to make the statement that they were missing lessons.
Protesters were encouraged to bring revision material on the Oxford UK Student Climate Network Facebook event : “We will be having a “revision session” to show that even though we are missing our education we still care greatly about it. So bring along your school books etc!”
EJ Fawcett, a 17 year old activist and co-head of outreach at Oxford UKSCN, told Cherwell about the responses of schools to student climate protests: “Most schools won’t punish people as long as they have parental permission, but some schools in Oxford have banned people from going. Some schools force students to jump through hoops, such as having to do a quiz.”
Imogen Duke Oxfordshire County Council has been supportive about young people’s protests.
The Director of Planning and Place at Oxfordshire County Council, Susan Halliwell, met EJ at the sit-in last Friday to discuss concerns about climate change.
Halliwell said: “It was really encouraging to meet this group of passionate young people. We agree that it is unforgivable if we all continue on a path towards an ever more polluted planet and I admire the determination of this group and the others I have seen recently in Oxford. I hope that they stay active and make sure that climate action stays high on the agenda for everyone.
“We felt that it was important not just to allow the protest to happen by our building but also to go out and actually speak with the group – we all have to keep talking so that we as a society can make a real difference.”
EJ was positive about the reaction of the council: “The county council were really enthusiastic about it and genuinely proud of what young people in Oxfordshire are doing. They don’t want to stifle us and want us to use our potential.”
She added that the “small symbolic demonstration’ was probably attended by about 30 students, the small numbers due to the large Oxford Climate Strike which already occurred on 20th September.
“This was attended by hundreds of pupils who marched, chanted, and gave speeches in Oxford’s city centre.”
She also spoke about the challenges of student-led movements. UKSCN is a “group of activists who are quite motivated and trying to do the right thing” but school commitments, it is difficult to take on the extra workload.
The next global strike day is planned for 29th November, with the UK campaign run by UKSCN as part of the #FridaysForFuture movement.