Roundhay School head hits back after pupils 'given detention' for attending the climate change protest

The headteacher of one of Leeds' leading secondary schools has defended a policy to give detention to children who walked out of lessons without permission to attend the Youth Strike 4 Climate Change demo.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 9:34 am
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 9:38 am
Roundhay School

Roundhay School was criticised on Twitter by a London-based protester who accused staff of punishing pupils who wished to take part in the protest last Friday.

However, the school's head Matthew Partington hit back, claiming her information was wrong and that students were allowed to attend the demonstration as long as their absence had been authorised in advance.

Mr Partington also highlighted the school's duty of care and green credentials during the social media row.

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The woman, Clare Grady, Tweeted:-

"Your 'positive behaviour system' has resulted in detentions for the students who walked out in a protest about climate change. Very poor. These students are our future."

Mr Partington responded:-

"This tweet is based on misinformation. Despite being absolutely committed to action against climate change, we can’t allow adults to encourage children to walk out of school. It’s a safeguarding issue and our number one priority is to keep children safe. I would suggest that you’re focusing your frustration in the wrong direction, we’re a school that cares deeply about changing lives, encouraging social mobility and championing the environment."

Parents of pupils at Roundhay School also jumped to the head's defence, pointing out that the school's stance on the demonstration had been made clear in advance.

Sarah Meredith said: "To be fair on the school, there was no prohibition whatsoever on going on the climate march. Just a reasonable requirement to send notice that the child intended to attend it."

Claire Corley commented: "Agree. Not sure your letter could have been more reasonable, nor explained more clearly the reasons for your decisions. I was proud of our school giving, in effect, a way for students to strike on such a key issue with clear, explained boundaries on how that could happen."

Mike Tattershall added: "School dealt with the strike in a professional way. Informed parents it would happen, gave opportunity for them to talk to kids in an adult way. Your tweet implies it handed out unfair retribution for attending. It did not. Just needed to follow procedure in place for the safety of all."

Schoolchildren all over the world have been encouraged to participate in the global Youth Strike 4 Climate Change movement. A walk-out in February saw young people gather at Leeds Town Hall to protest about environmental concerns.Roundhay School did not respond to a request for further comment.