Pupils in Edinburgh have hit out at council proposals to limit the number of days they can strike over climate breakdown to once a year.

Thousands of young people participated in school strikes at the Scottish Parliament building in March and May, with smaller groups continuing to protest every Friday, as part of a wider movement in which action was planned in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK.

But a report by officials found that most headteachers were unhappy with councillors approving the absences.

Edinburgh City Council's education committee is set to decide if participation in these protests should be banned on Friday, with more action planned by the Scottish Youth Climate Strike (SYCS) group on September 20 and 27.


Youth climate strikes: Show the world we stand up for planet Earth

One SYCS organiser, 15-year-old Dylan Hamilton, said: "The climate crisis is the biggest threat to humanity, with the group most affected being the children.

"All we want is a seat at the table with effective climate targets being decided. Allowing us to protest once a year is simply not acceptable and will not let us get across how serious this is to the people in power.

"Instead of marking us as truants, we should be praised and given help to catch up for adhering to values our schools promote such as celebrating citizenship and being an effective contributor.

"Punishing pupils for attending the climate strikes is a violation of our human right to freedom of expression."

Sandy Boyd, 15, a national coordinator for SYCS said: "Climate change is a pressing issue which will affect all of us but those who will suffer the most are the youths. We are the ones who will be left to clean up the mess created by the older generations. We are the ones who will suffer from famine and drought. And we are the ones whose voices on the matter have been consistently ignored.

"We may not have the right to vote, or to stand for election, but we can still force the government to hear our voices by striking. When we strike, we tell them that we care about our futures and we're aware of the environmental destruction all around us. To strike is our only way to share our voices and to only allow us one strike a year removes that voice."

Scottish Greens councillor Steve Burgess told The Herald: "Whilst it is right to expect routine attendance at school, a block on climate striking fails to put into perspective the relatively small time-off involved over the whole school year.

"Neither does it recognise the educational value of striking in developing young people’s social and political awareness, nor the fact that school climate strikes have been hugely influential in driving the global response to the Climate Emergency, particularly in Scotland.

"This is not the time to put up barriers against young people expressing fears for their future and being able to doing something about it."


Youth Strike 4 Climate: Thousands of school pupils walk out in strike

The council's education convener Ian Perry, said: “Having discussed this with a number of people, there’s a consensus we should support the young people with climate change – this is one of the most important issues that’s facing them. However, there needs to be a balance and if we allow them more than one day, the issue will be they are missing school.

“We are confident that one day won’t affect their education. This is an authorised day. If they feel really strongly about it and they strike and say that climate change is more important than their education, that is up to the pupils and their parents and could have the potential to harm their education.”

Tory education spokesperson Callum Laidlaw said: "The Conservatives agree with the findings of the report, and the opinions of headteachers, which state that pupils should not be missing school to attend climate protests.

"Young people are right to be concerned about the environment and it’s important their voices are heard but this should not impact their education and the ability for teachers to deliver their lesson plans to others.

“Accordingly, we will be moving an amendment to clarify that pupils that miss school for a climate protest should have it recorded as an unauthorised absence."