On March 15 a student strike much like the one in London last week, is planned to draw attention to climate change.
This is an issue that sparks a diversity of viewpoint from the outset - the idea of students “striking” from school to draw attention to politicians and world leaders about climate change. So how do we feel about this at school? Those in education work hard to teach students to think about the big issues and to broaden world views. At NGS we encourage a sense of inquiry within our youngest students and hope to instil critical thinking as they grow older. We encourage students to look at data to make judgements, decisions and to utilise this data to solve problems. Every day we ask students to raise their voices in discussions. The classroom is a vibrant and engaging place full of diverse views – much like society. The skills students learn stay with them for a life time.
I have an objection to the positioning of the event as a “strike”, which presumes that schools will be against it. On the contrary, we support our students in developing their capacity to think critically about real-world issues and becoming active citizens – this is at the heart of learning and we should use this event as a provocation for supportive discussions/activities in key classes. We also support students in exercising their democratic rights, therefore, we would not deny any student who wanted to attend – this is a matter for them and their parents. Indeed, if it was positioned differently, we would have the opportunity to consider the merits of the events and decide if we wanted to take part or not take part. However, the overt political nature of the event and representation of it as a strike precludes schools from doing this – what an opportunity missed by the organisers!
Therefore, what is our stance if your son or daughter wishes to attend? Firstly, if a parent wants to take their child to the rally on March 15 then this is your choice. I ask that you let the School know as per normal that your child will be absent for the day. Be aware that we have no role in the rally itself and no staff will attend or be available for supervision. If your son or daughter is in Year 11 and 12 and sees this rally as something they believe strongly in – I ask that parents email Mrs Carla James (Carla.email@example.com) requesting a leave of absence for the day. These are the only two year groups who will be given permission to attend without parental supervision.
We will look for opportunities on and around this day to engage students with this important issue in the curriculum and at assemblies. As a school we have committed to Clean Up Australia Day on Sunday March 3, we have sustainability projects on both campuses and our bee project continues to gain momentum. Many of our students take an active role both in and outside of school in environmental issues. There are plenty of opportunities to take action and consider this complex issue for a wide range of students to ensure they are well informed and can make their own decisions.
March 15 is also ‘Bullying No Way Day’ in all schools across Australia. At NGS our senior student leaders and musicians on Hill Campus are planning a lunch time concert to raise awareness of the ‘Bullying No Way Day’ with a focus on kindness and support for friends and peers. Students at Park and Hill Campuses will be given wrist bands to wear as a reminder of both the individual and collective responsibility we all have in this area.