Bedales students join national climate strike

Posted on 27th September 2019

Bedales students joined thousands of young people across the UK taking action against climate change on 20 September when they took part in Youth Strike 4 Climate in Petersfield.

Over 70 students from Bedales – and more from Bedales Prep, Dunhurst – took part in the demonstration in Petersfield Market Square, which formed part of the latest national strike action led by the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN).

With a mission inspired largely by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, UKSCN’s latest strike action – Youth Strike 4 Climate – entailed a UK-wide school strike protesting the lack of government action to combat the current climate crisis.

In the afternoon, a small group of Bedales students attended a symposium on climate change at the London School of Economics, with a number of speakers – including Lord Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment – addressing the question ‘What should individuals, communities, schools and universities do to stop climate change?’

Students’ involvement on this issue follows a long tradition of political engagement at Bedales. In 2016, the school introduced a unique Bedales Assessed Course (BAC) in Global Awareness, covering global issues such as sustainable development as well as poverty, equality, social justice, human rights, globalisation, gender and peace and conflict. Campaigning and activism are a critical element of the GCSE-level course, with students taking an academic approach, critically examining the different perspectives of an issue – such as climate change – and drawing on numerous sources to present an argument. This year the school’s offering was extended to sixth form students, with a Pre-U in Global Perspectives and Research now available.

Earlier this year, Bedales hosted a ‘Funeral for the Planet’ in assembly, where they announced a climate emergency. The event was organised by Head of Geography Paul Turner, who became one of the UK’s first United Nations-accredited climate change teachers. Bedales’ Geography department has also recently launched the UK’s first climate breakdown scheme of work, collaborating with other teachers and organisations.

Bedales remains committed to reducing the school’s environmental footprint by monitoring water and energy consumption, waste, printing and the use of single-use plastic. Students’ drinking mugs are being replaced by cups constructed from recycled chewing gum produced by Gumdrop, the innovative venture of former Bedales student Anna Bulles.

Head of Bedales Magnus Bashaarat commented: “Student voice has long been a feature of school life at Bedales so I am delighted to see young people exercising their voices on climate change in support of the campaign inspired by Greta Thunberg. Since its foundation over 125 years ago, Bedales has taken a progressive and innovative approach to education, so as a community we are always keen to question how we can do things better to prepare our young people for the many challenges they will face.”