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Pupils docked vital allowances after going to climate change protest

Pupils docked vital allowances after going to climate change protest

A SCOTTISH council has apologised after stripping pupils of their education allowances for attending a climate change demonstration.

Dozens of senior students from Peebles High School in the Borders joined a nationwide strike protest outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The fifth and sixth year pupils skipped their Friday morning classes to lend their support to the campaign to save the planet.

But pupils from low income households, who receive financial support from their local authority to stay on at school, had their monthly payments docked due to non-attendance at normal lessons.

Scottish Borders Council blamed the move on a clerical error and insisted the senior students will be re-imbursed.

Read more: Climate strikes come to Scotland

One parent said:”These young adults want to do their bit to protect the planet.

“The protests are peaceful and have made politicians sit up and take notice – yet the pupils from poorer households are being punished.”

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was introduced to support 16-to-19 year-olds from low income households remain in education.

Although it was later scrapped in England, the £30-per-week allowances have continued in Scotland and Wales.

And they are seen as vital for allowing some pupils to continue learning beyond fourth year.

The parent added: “My son and a few of his friends rely on the EMA – it gives them independence.

“They were shocked and upset when they found that their EMAs were not being paid because of the protests.”

Following the hottest summer on record Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg decided to take her environmental concerns to her country’s parliament.

Her strike action in Stockholm has won support across the world with pupils also picking up placards and demanding action to reverse climate change.

Thousands of students in Scotland have added their voice to the protests either locally or at Holyrood.

Read more: Thousands of pupils walk out over climate strikes

A spokeswoman for Scottish Borders Council said the deductions had been a clerical error and that pupils would be refunded.

She said: “EMA is deducted if a student is late to school or absent from school.

“Deductions are made by administration staff who don’t see the reason for absence and make decisions based on percentages.

“The rector at Peebles High School has confirmed that deductions should not have been made for attendance at the climate strikes and has confirmed that deductions will be reinstated immediately and families contacted to apologise for the mistake.

“Over recent weeks the school has held seven assemblies on climate change and how the school is playing its part.

“They would never knowingly penalise a student for supporting this national agenda.”

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