AS thousands of school kids walked out of class on Friday morning to protest a lack of political action on climate change, Theresa May gave them a row, telling them that they had wasted their teacher’s time.

But with plans already under way for another day of action next month, it seems unlikely that the Prime Minister’s reprimand will do much to encourage pupils to stay at their desk.

“The planet‘s more important than my education” 12-year-old Hillpark Secondary School pupil Ella Young told The National as she joined the protest in Glasgow’s George Square.

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Across the UK an estimated 15,000 students took to the streets.

A Number 10 spokesman said while it was important for young people to engage with issues such as climate change, the disruption to planned lesson time was damaging for pupils.

“Everybody wants young people to be engaged in the issues that affect them most, so that we can build a brighter future for all of us.

“But it is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.

“That time is crucial for young people, precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates we need to help tackle this problem.”

In Scotland, where there were rallies in Glasgow, Ullapool, Fort William, and Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon gave the youngsters her tacit approval.

“It’s a cause for optimism, in an often dark world, that young people are taking a stand on climate change,” she tweeted. “@scotgov is a world leader but, given the urgency, it is right that we are all challenged to do more and that we hear the voice of the next generation.”

Green MSP Ross Greer said any pupil being threatened with punishment by their school for taking part in the protest should come to directly to him.

“This isn’t theoretical,” he tweeted. “I’m already dealing with one school who have been completely over the top, punishing a brave young constituent of mine for doing exactly what Curriculum for Excellence encourages him to do, be a responsible citizen.”

The protests were inspired by Greta Thunberg, who, last August, when she was 15, started a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament.

The National: Ross Greer at the Glasgow demonstrations. Photograph: Robert PerryRoss Greer at the Glasgow demonstrations. Photograph: Robert Perry

Now, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week hold similar rallies all over the world.

On Friday, she hailed the turnout in the UK: “I think enough people have realised just how absurd the situation is. We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history and basically nothing is being done to prevent it. I think what we are seeing is the beginning of great changes and that is very hopeful,” she wrote.

She later tweeted: “The British PM says that the children on school strike are ‘wasting lesson time’. That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”

Thunberg also paid special tribute to 13-year-old Holly Gillibrand, who, for the last six Fridays has left her classes in Lochaber high school, holding a solo protest.

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On Friday, many more students joined the Fort William teenager.

Addressing, the crowd, she said: “The UN announced that we have 12 years left to limit the effects of the climate process. Twelve years. The fact that we have a very small window of time to try to save the planet is one which should send politicians around the world into a panic.”

Gillibrand and fellow protesters demanded the Government “finally declare a climate emergency”.

There was support for the strikers from across the political spectrum.

LibDem MP Jamie Stone said: “These strikes are a call for everyone to take climate change seriously and I am impressed by the commitment and democratic engagement of these young people.

“It is these students’ futures we are gambling with when we refuse to make the changes necessary.”

Though May was unhappy, there were plenty in her party who gave the strikers their support. Douglas Ross, the Tory MP for Moray tweeted: “Look forward to meeting these young people soon to discuss their concerns and hopes.”