A primary school has triggered fury over its plan to slaughter its pigs as a way of teaching children where meat comes from.
Pupils at Farsley Farfield Primary, near Leeds in West Yorkshire, have helped to rear a group of Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs in a move critics have branded "propaganda" for the meat-eating community "who want their children to be brainwashed into thinking it's OK to kill animals for food", and potentially traumatising.
Headteacher Peter Harris, in a blog on the school's website, wrote: "Through keeping the pigs, the children will learn more about the provenance of their food and issues around animal welfare. We will be investing in information boards for outside the enclosure.
"The pigs will not be pets and will only be with us for nine months. The pigs will have a life twice as long as modern commercially-reared breeds and will have a truly free-range life."
A petition calling for the pigs to be spared slaughter has gained more than 2,200 signatures. It was created by someone who says they are a former pupil, identified only as Ix Willow.
The petition states: "My main concerns are with the well-being of these pigs who don't deserve to die, and the message that we will be teaching the children at Farsley Farfield that it is OK to exploit and kill animals with the only justification being that people enjoy eating their bodies."
In response to the accusation that the plan is basically a propaganda tool for the meat industry, Mr Harris noted that "these pigs are better treated than the vast majority of pigs" and work is also being done to encourage people to cut their meat intake.
He added: "We are getting criticised by some vegetarians/vegans and, at the same time, by some meat eaters who think that the project is a veggie-conspiracy.
"I hope that our children have an educated view and make informed, balanced decisions when they are adults."
One critic wrote: "If my daughter came to this school she would be traumatised at the thought of animals which she had grown fond of and seen on a regular basis being slaughtered for food. It would be like eating your pet dog!"
Another described the plan as "disgraceful", adding: "Why not teach the children to show compassion? All lives matter. How can you let the children engage and become attached to the animals, then after a very short life span kill them?"
In contrast, a supportive parent described it as a "marvellous idea", adding: "I too went to a school with a farm with pigs, beef cattle, a laying flock of chickens, as well as chickens reared for the table. Some of the meat produced was served up to us in the school canteen.
"It would be fair to say that the experience taught me that sometimes hard decisions have to be made and prepared me for a life able to face up to whatever the world would throw at me.
"It's reassuring to know that there will be children that understand how food is produced."