Headteacher defends eco parade after claims pupils were ‘politicised’

PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 December 2019

Pupils at St Peter's Primary School before their march through Budleigh. Picture:St Peter's Primary School

Pupils at St Peter's Primary School before their march through Budleigh. Picture:St Peter's Primary School

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The headteacher of Budleigh Salterton’s primary school has defended an eco march through the town centre after claims pupils were being ‘politicised’.

Eco champions from St Peter's Primary School, holding bumblebee-shaped placards, were led through the town centre in a parade to mark the school's declaration of a climate emergency.

However, one resident said children were taking part in a rally against the closure of the town's fire station, accusing the school of politicising pupils.

In a letter to the Journal, Hanneke Coates said she could not see 'one smiling face'.

In response, headteacher Steve Hitchcock said it was a parade was about 'courageous' children trying to bring about 'essential' change and was greeted by cheering shopkeepers.

Mrs Coates said: "I am sure most of us are appalled that yet another local facility is being moved away from us locals.

"But does our primary school think it's appropriate to use and politicise our very small school children in such a brutal way?

"I could not see one single smiling face at the sight of such an angry scene.

"Most people stood shaking their heads in a shocked way.

"Surely if the school wanted the children to show respect to our brave men and women firefighters it would have been so much more appropriate for each of them to have written them a nice kind appreciative letter of support or made a drawing."

Mr Hitchcock denied it had anything to do with fire service cuts.

He also said children handed out leaflets, spread the news of the school's declaration and asked members of the community to join them.

Mr Hitchcock said one shopkeeper gave the children sweets to say well done.

He told the Journal: "We took a small parade of 14 children through the town and were greeted with universal support from everyone we met and spoke to.

"There was nothing about the fire station at all.

"This is not a political issue, but an ecological one.

"We are responding to the science that clearly states we need to act now."

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