In correspondence with the Council, Mr Beattie discovered that the Council had informed schools that pupils absent due to attending these demonstrations will see their Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) ‘impacted detrimentally’.
An EMA is a weekly payment of £30 paid directly to eligible young people who are continuing in post-compulsory education (i.e. beyond the age of 16) or have left school and are taking part in an Activity Agreement. In contrast to East Lothian Council, Edinburgh City Council was reported (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-47456281) as allowing pupils to attend climate change protests if prior permission had been given.
Mr Beattie commented:
‘I am in disbelief at East Lothian Council’s actions here.
‘Not only is this step mean-spirited, but it also suggests that the Council don’t care about young people having a say in their future.
‘Personally speaking, I am proud of the youth of Scotland showing that they understand climate change and how it will affect them. We have far too many people who deny climate change and voices displaying the truth need to be heard.
‘Edinburgh City Council has rightly show the way this situation should be dealt with.
‘I call on East Lothian Council to reverse this policy and to ensure all Education Maintenance Allowances are fully paid for those pupils attending climate change protests.’
For more on EMAs, see the website at: https://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/info/210557/schools_nurseries_and_learning/11902/education_maintenance_allowance