A large crowd of school students gathered at Parliament Square this Friday morning and started a peaceful protest demanding action from politicians to combat climate change.

Demonstrations tend to be led by adults. Not today. For many kids, this Friday was not the average school day. All across the UK, schoolchildren changed the classrooms for the streets as they walked out and protested against climate change inaction from the Government. In London, the main protest took place in Westminster.

Under a clear, sunny sky, students chanted and waved their banners outside the Houses of Parliament from 11am. After 1pm, they moved to Westminster Bridge, occupying both road directions.

The protest was been overseen by a modest amount of policemen, who had to occasionally intervene to ensure traffic flow could continue.

The protests, inspired by activism of 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, was supported by organisations such as the UK Student Climate Network and the UK Youth Climate Coalition, which are independent from any schools. Most of the schoolchildren who attended were not accompanied by an adult. There were, however, some parents who marched along their children – specially those with young kids.

Schools took different stands ahead of this example of youth activism. Some encouraged their students to take part in the strikes, whereas others preferred not to acknowledge the particularity of the occasion.

Darcy Lawler, a mother who attended the protest with her son, celebrated this strike: “He [her son] has been super passionate about the environment and global warming for many years and today it’s his first opportunity to participate in an organised protest.”

Regarding the response from her son’s school, Mrs Lawler claims that they supported the strike action. “They sent out an email saying that anyone who wanted to participate in the protest would be authorised to leave school. They were completely supportive,” she affirms.

Stephanie, another mother who attended the protest, found a more passive attitude at their daughter’s school: “They didn’t really support the protest, but they didn’t keep us from doing it either,” she explains.

At that point she looks at her six-year-old daughter and asks her if they said anything about the strike at school, to what the young kid replies “no”.

As most of the parents who shared this experience with their children, Stephanie was very enthusiastic: “It’s amazing, it’s great! I hope they [the children] see that together they are stronger and that they have something to say.”

But is it too early for a six-year-old to join a demonstration? Stephanie does not think so. “I took her here because I think that she should see that she’s got a voice and that it’s important to put it out there and be inspired by the children who have organised this.”

Stephanie compares today’s school strike with the spirit of 1968, one of the most iconic years in the history of student activism, with today’s protests, and adds: “Our youth managed to change some things, but obviously not massively because we are still here and actually worse off than when I was a teenager.”

A follow-up strike is expected to take place on 15th March as part of the global student movement against climate change inaction.