Animal rights and vegan activists have created a petition to stop a Yorkshire school slaughtering pigs as part of lessons looking at meat production and food provenance.
A new addition to Farsley Farfield's on-site farm in Leeds has created 'quite a stir', according to the primary school.
The school farm grows vegetables, keeps hens and rears Gloucester Old Spot pigs as part of efforts to teach pupils the food chain.
On the school's website, it said that through keeping the pigs, children will learn more about the provenance of their food and issues around animal welfare.
“They have plenty of space to root around in. They particularly enjoy looking for windfall apples that the children have hidden around their enclosure,” the school said.
“The pigs are of the heritage Gloucester Old Spot breed that used to be kept in orchards and, according to folklore, their black spots are bruises from falling apples. They are the perfect breed for Farfield Farm.”
But a petition has since launched which calls on the school to drop its pig session, saying that keeping animals for slaughter will 'traumatise' children.
The petition, launched by vegan Ix Willow six months ago, has gathered more than 2,800 signatures.
She said: “Schools have a duty of care to support children, teach them fair values and to provide a safe and happy environment for them.
“By teaching children that it is okay to exploit and kill animals they are in breach of this, and this could also be traumatising for children getting to know the animals and then knowing they are going to die.”
However, headteacher Peter Harris said he only wanted pupils to become 'more knowledgeable and sensitive to animal welfare' as a result of rearing pigs.
He explained in a statement: “There was consultation on this before the pigs came and the project has the overwhelming support of the school's families.
“The pigs have never been pets. Our animals are just one part of a comprehensive, award-winning farming, food and cooking curriculum that means our children are much better-informed than most about where their food comes from.”
Comments left on the school's website shows that the majority of people are in favour of keeping the pigs.
One person who left a comment, Tanya Hepton, said that despite some individual’s views on social media, having pigs on the school farm is a 'brilliant idea'.
“All of my children have been brought up knowing where our food comes from and it does not stop them eating any of it,” she said.
Jade Thompson added: “Fab addition to the school, my daughter is very excited to have them in the school and what a great way for the children to learn the true food cycle.”