Schoolgirls stage anti-war protest
TWO 11-year-old girls have delivered their own message to Tony Blair by walking out of school in protest at any future war on Iraq.The Stowmarket Middle School pupils left classes after lunch yesterday with the blessings of their parents, who had written to the school in advance informing them of the plan.
By John Howard
TWO 11-year-old girls have delivered their own message to Tony Blair by walking out of school in protest at any future war on Iraq.
The Stowmarket Middle School pupils left classes after lunch yesterday with the blessings of their parents, who had written to the school in advance informing them of the plan.
Charlotte Scott, of Crown Street, and Harriet Godbold, of Finborough Road, both Stowmarket, were met from school by Charlotte's mother, a librarian in the town.
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The pupils also plan to strike on the first day of school after any war with Iraq is launched.
Charlotte said: "We do not want it to happen, this is no way to go about sorting things out. Some agree with us, but don't want to do much about it."
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Both Charlotte and Harriet have been wearing "Not in my name'' badges on their school ties.
Harriet said: "I do not want the war because innocent people will die as well as those who have chosen to be there, the soldiers.
"I went on the Stop the War march with my parents and sister. I do not want children to die out there too, the thought of children my age dying does not seem right.
"I have been watching the news quite a lot and feel very strongly about it, but I was nervous walking out.''
Mrs Scott, 43, said: "She has got her own mind, this is the first time she has done this though. She is very brave, I would not have done this at her age. I think it's rather good.''
Mr and Mrs Scott, whose two other children are at university, said Charlotte had formed her own opinion about the war and they fully supported her.
Mr Scott, 46, who works in the building trade, said: "I fully support Charlotte. Whether it's religion or politics, we let her and the boys make up their own minds.
"The headmaster was spoken to yesterday to test the water and he said not to do this, said it was political. But everything is political at the end of the day.
"She is not really an activist, just a normal little girl. She is well balanced, rounded, I am very proud of her."
Ron Godbold, Harriet's father, said he had talked it through with his daughter to make sure she was sincere and then wrote to the school.
He said it was important to let children develop their own characters and he agrees with her view.
But Gordon Ewing, headteacher, said he felt the children's afternoon off was inappropriate and would go down on the pupil's records.
He said: "The girls came to me yesterday and said they wanted to wear badges and have posters up round the school. I felt we should try and keep politics and school separate.''
Roger Collins, deputy headteacher, said: "We will take this up with the parents. Children should not be kept away. We do allow it for special family circumstances, such as funerals, but always after they have gained permission.''
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council, the local education authority, said it was not appropriate for them to make a comment and such a situation was the school's responsibility.