WHAT’S going to happen in schools on Friday when the second climate change schools strike is due to happen? Will there be a mass exodus of pupils from schools for a second time?

Up to 100,000 pupils are expected to walk out of schools in 60 countries to take part in Friday’s strike, and they have the backing of Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, because “the future of the human race is now at stake”, he says.

In this country, pupils are also expected to join a “climate rebellion” by thousands of people in the form of mass civil disobedience in London, which is organised by Extinction Rebellion and is planned to take place in April.

There seems to be growing support for children taking an active role in these protests, everyone swept away by their actions and the ethicality of the issue. But I have my doubts. Where is it all going to lead?

As the mother of sons aged 15 and 18, both coming up to GCSE and A level exams, I am concerned about pupils skipping school for any reason at such a crucial time in their education. I have heard the arguments that it’s only one day out of years of education and that teenagers have the right to have their voices heard, but it’s also true that lots of them are taking advantage of a situation that gives them a ‘get out of school free’ card - in others words, an excuse to bunk off.

When parents take their children out of school to go on holiday, they are punished with fines, so it is a possibility, now that we know the first strike was not a one-off, that they will also face punishment for allowing or encouraging their children to miss school for another day. After all, what’s the difference? An unauthorised absence is an unauthorised absence, whatever the reason.

These strike days are a nightmare for schools because, acting in loco parentis, they are responsible for their pupils during school hours and are forced into preventing pupils leaving school grounds without permission. Nobody knows what the pupils are going to get up to once they’ve gone - a truanting pupil can get into all sorts of trouble, whether they are truanting because they don’t want to be at school or truanting for “ethical” reasons. Who will get blamed then? Who is responsible if a teenager, absent from school ostensibly for the climate change strike, becomes the next stabbing victim? The children organising this Friday’s strike are too young to understand the dangers teenagers can get into outside their safety zones while we adults know only too well. I worry that it’s only when something dreadful happens to a pupil during one of these strikes that common sense sets in.

With this Friday’s strike the second to be held in a month, will there be more? Now that the pupils have “got away” with the first and also possibly the second, what’s to stop pupils from forming groups about other “issues” and declaring more and more strikes?

There will also be ethical issues close to home for parents to deal with. Those parents who encouraged their children to stay away from school for the first strike, and may be doing the same for the second strike, could be faced with the possibility that a future strike could be called on an exam day. But how will they then be able to force their child to choose an exam over a strike because by then they will have lost their moral authority with their children over attendance.

The strikes will also be teaching children a bad lesson for the future. They are learning that they can call the shots over their attendance at school, effectively giving teachers and parents the finger, an attitude which will bode ill for them when they are in the adult work of world. The normal purpose of strikes is to improve pay or workplace conditions, for employees to harm an employer by damaging their ability to function. But this does not apply when the strike is over a world issue their employer has no control over and can’t change. Children will learn the hard way that going out on strike over an issue that does not involve their employer and their workplace could earn them the sack.

Similarly, parents allowing their children to strike on Friday should ask themselves this question: who is harmed by it? Not the oil companies or the industries polluting the world, not the government, which can decide in its own time whether or not to take notice of the strike and its cause, and not the schools or teachers themselves. There will be temporary local disruption during each strike but ultimately nobody who has any power to act over climate change will be affected. Only the pupils are being harmed by their own actions by missing out on education.