WINCHESTER students took the day off school and went on strike over climate change.

More than a dozen pupils from a local schools were seen protesting at different points in the High Street.

Cllr Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council, personally addressed the Kings' School students campaigning outside the County Council offices opposite the Westgate.

He said: “I was pleased to speak to a number of pupils. I strongly support their concern for the environment and told them the Hampshire 2050 Commission, which I chair, has already received strong evidence about the impact of climate change on Hampshire by the middle of the century.

"However, I suggested that they should consider alternative ways of making their point, without doing damage to their own education by missing classes. "I invited them to provide a written representation to the Hampshire 2050 Commission."

The 14 and 15 years olds from Kings' began their protest at 9am, chanting "the climate is changing and why aren't we", and "go green or go home".

Student Annamaria Bagdoshvili, 15, said: "We decided to do this on a school day to draw more attention to ourselves. We want the Council to focus on this as a big issue, and not the all the mediocre things. It's about expressing what should be the priority.

"What is the point in doing anything today - going to school and studying for our futures - if we can't fix the planet we live on, and maybe not even have clean drinking water?"

The students revealed they have stopped using plastic containers and cutlery at lunchtimes, and that competitions are held at school to see which year group can recycle the most waste.

Claudia Shaikh, 14, said: "We know this strike won't change things instantly. But if people don't take action like we are, those with the power to change things will never do anything.

"Our parents are all for us taking the day off school to do this, and if we are told to move away, we will refuse. This is public land and we have the right to fight for what we believe in."

Annamaria told the Chronicle that the protestors have set themselves a personal target of 12 years to help fix the climate change issues, and that their passion for the campaign was influenced by school assemblies and lessons.

Matthew Leeming, headteacher at Kings' School, said: "Firstly, I'd like to say that I believe climate change is a big issue, and it's good that young people feel so strongly about changing it.

"The strike has given me a slight anxiety concerning the safety of the children, though. I haven't authorised any of the absences because the situation could be potentially dangerous. But that certainly doesn't take away that what they are doing is really admirable.

"I hope the topic becomes a prominent part in school life."

Protestors were also seen by the Buttercross throughout the day.

City and County Councillor, Jackie Porter, was at the protest, and said: "It’s contentious but I think it’s important.

"We are trying to treat in a positive way. The fact it’s so important, they’ve got to take action.

"This is about taking real action."

A spokesperson from Henry Beaufort confirmed that three out of 1,000 students took part in the strikes, but the school declined to comment on the situation.

The Chronicle asked for a comment from the Westgate School, but are yet to receive a reply.