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School strike eco-council plans lie-down protest on King's Parade


By Mike Scialom


A vote is taken at the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council. Going clockwise from bottom right (in the red T-shirt) are Magnus, Aarifah, Junayd, Nico, Helena, Ella, Jona, Alba, Eliott and Sophie. Picture: Derek Langley
A vote is taken at the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council. Going clockwise from bottom right (in the red T-shirt) are Magnus, Aarifah, Junayd, Nico, Helena, Ella, Jona, Alba, Eliott and Sophie. Picture: Derek Langley

The second meeting of the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council's voted unanimously for an 11-minute lie-down in front of King's College at the next school strike march on April 12.

The organisation, the first of its kind in the country, will also invite Sir David Attenborough to speak at the protest which will be the third school-organised strike in Cambridge following events on February 15 and March 15.

Chaired by Helena Davis, 18, of Hills Road Sixth Form College, the 14-strong eco-council concluded that a lie-down in King's Parade would create a powerful image.

"It would create a lot of attention in other countries," said Nico Roman, 10, of King's College School, "because there's lots of people from other countries in Cambridge and they'd see all those children lying down in the street."

"The image that everybody puts on their postcards is King's College," added Jona David, 3 also of King's School.

"We can get chalk and leave outlines of the children out there," said Junayd Islam, 15, of Parkside School.

School strikes have taken place in more than 100 countries so far this year, as the younger generation becomes increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change. The movement is demanding the lowering of the voting age and an international declaration of a state of climate emergency. The eco-council also voted on the details of the April 12 protest, which would be the first time schoolchildren have taken the peaceful protest model this far.

Pupils and students protesting outside Shire Hall on March 15. Picture: Keith Heppell
Pupils and students protesting outside Shire Hall on March 15. Picture: Keith Heppell

"We could take on board the 12 years deadline," said Helena, "and lie down for 12 minutes."

"It's 11 years now," said Jona. "Maybe we should go with 11?"

The council voted unanimously to stage the lie-down for 11 minutes.

"When we're lying down we could be silent but music could be coming out of the speakers," suggested Junayd.

The discussion moved on to the speakers at the event. Would someone from the university - Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, and Dr Rowan Williams, currently Master of Magdalene College were mentioned - be able to talk?

"We should maybe do the speeches at 11 and plan the lie-in for around 12 and that gives an hour for speeches and maybe a teaching session," said Jona.

"That's separate from the lie-in," said Helena.

Tree protest at the March 15 2019 School Strike 4 Climate in Cambridge. Picture: Derek Langley
Tree protest at the March 15 2019 School Strike 4 Climate in Cambridge. Picture: Derek Langley

"If David Attenborough could come that would get loads of attention," said Sophie, aged 12, from Comberton Village College.

It was agreed to reach out to David Attenborough, the globally recognised broadcaster and natural historian whose David Attenborough Building at the University of Cambridge is a unique hub of conservation and biodiversity. "He might be busy though!" was the conclusion.

The schedule was finalised with the addition of chanting and bells during the 11-minute silence.

"Maybe the bells at Great St Mary's Church could ring 11 times to symbolise the 11 years," said Jona.

"And while we're lying down there could be the sound of flooding coming through the speakers," suggested Daniel Jones, 11, from Spinney Primary School.

"So the sound of flooding, chanting and bells?" asked Helena. "And in the last minute we could have silence?"

"So the church bell ringing every minutes, then a chant, then silence, then a bill for the second minute, like that?" asked Ginny Dunmead, 13, of St Bede's.

The motion was passed. The eco-council also voted to launch a schools pack to enable other schools and colleges to set up their own eco-councils.

"We need to get someone in each school to pass the word on to other schools," said Ginny.

Ginny Dunmead, 13, of St Bede's, records the decisions being taken during the second Cambridge Schools Eco-Council at the Michaelhouse Centre on Trinity Street. Picture: Derek Langley
Ginny Dunmead, 13, of St Bede's, records the decisions being taken during the second Cambridge Schools Eco-Council at the Michaelhouse Centre on Trinity Street. Picture: Derek Langley

"We could maybe write a script, and create a kit, so it doesn't matter who sends it," said Helena.

Finally, the session deliberated how climate change discussions could be introduced into school assembles in the city.

"Are there eco-clubs in schools?" asked Helena.

"We used to have one in our school but it just stopped and I don't know why," said Harry, aged nine, from St Paul's. [Please note members of the council introduced each other using only their first names.]

"What do you need for an assembly talk?" enquired Helena.

"A Powerpoint, a video, a script..." said Nico.

"We have a video," said Jona.

"Maybe we should try and do the assemblies as soon as we can," said Elliot Dunmead, aged eight, of St Paul's.

Also present on the eco-council were Alba Kluyver Rodgirues, 14, from Impington Village College; Magnus Bramwell, 11, of Netherhall School; Reuben, 11, from St Matthew's School, Cambridge; Arthur Pledge, 12, of Perse School and Aarifah Islam, 12, of Parkside School.

A fourth march for May 23 was also confirmed. Any pupils or students considering contributing to Cambridge Schools Eco-Council should email cambridgeschoolsecocouncil@gmail.com.



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