Day 12: Mansfield – Chesterfield – Sheffield

School visits

In Chesterfield we had arranged to go into several classes of Spanish students in two secondary schools. We explained that we are walking 1,000 km to Glasgow to promote climate justice and urge the 200 governments attending the COP26 that urgent measures must be taken to tackle climate change now. We answered questions from the 12-14 year old students. 

As Spaniards, we were surprised about the levels of security on entering the school, we even had to get our photo taken at one of them. Although the reasoning is to keep the children safe, it does also seem to illustrate exaggerated levels of concern about safety in a country that sees little violence. The UK has more CCTV cameras per capita than any other country in the world, apart from China.

Education in the UK is mostly state run: the state pays and the local authorities manage it. Since 2010, the ‘free school’ academy system has been adopted, financed by the state, but independent of the local authority and managed by associations, businesses, the church, etc. Although academies are not for profit, they still remain a form of privatizing education, as seen in the Spanish ‘concertada’ (part public, part private) schools. 

Access to schools is not based on catchment areas (as it should be). Instead, ‘competitiveness’, social differentiation and privilege for the already privileged are promoted with this system, and this is paid for with public money. It seems to be a far cry from a fair and democratic society. In this regard it is not all that different from the Spanish educational system.

Back with the walkers

While Nicky, Irdo and Carlos Lopez went to visit the schools, we made great progress on the march. We set off early (7.30 am) and arrived in time for a quick pint at the pub before going for lunch at the Saffron Kitchen (run by the Asian Association) in Chesterfield with members from Chesterfield Climate Alliance group and Extinction Rebellion.

Then it was a march through Chesterfield centre accompanied by a samba band.

Knife angel statue in Chesterfield by sculptor Alfie Bradley

In the centre, we met other activists and members of the public at the knife angel statue made from 100,000 bladed weapons, which were collected in knife banks during police amnesties. This statue, made by Alfie Bradley highlights the impact knife crime has on people, families and communities across the UK. We also saw the iconic crooked spire of Chesterfield Parish Church. And then it was on to Sheffield to be met by members of XR and Greenpeace.

Written by: Carlos López (part 1) and Becky Stoakes (part 2)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.