Primary School Plans To Slaughter Pet Pigs To Teach Pupils About Food Chain
A primary school has sparked debate over its controversial plans to teach students about the food chain - by slaughtering its pet pigs and then selling the meat on to pupils.
Animals welfare campaigners have called the plans "cruel" and "traumatising" on social media, but others have said it's essential for children to know where meat comes from, helping them to decide whether they want to eat it or not.
The pigs have been reared by some students on their mini farm at Farsley Farfield Primary in Leeds.
And the farmyard animals will then will be killed for meat in summer, according to an online petition. The school reportedly has no plan as to how the animals will be killed or what products will be created as a result.
A number of people are protesting Farsley Farfield Primary's plans, and a petition has garnered 2,200 signatures (at the time of writing) over concerns for the well-being of the animals.
Headteacher Peter Harris is behind the idea, saying that his pupils will be "more knowledgeable and sensitive to animal welfare" as a result of the plans - and it seems like plenty are in agreement.
"Children think meat, vegetables, fruit come from supermarkets. Children need this education of where bacon comes from, milk comes from cows, not the supermarket. Great idea," said one.
Another added: "It's a good idea. Kids need to understand where their food comes from. Could link it to a trip to the abattoir too. Give em a real insight [sic]."
An anonymous parent, whose son goes to the school, told Pretty52: "There was a long consultation process with the parents of the children at the school, particularly around the religious and moral aspects of pigs which is so important to so many parents.
"If any parents have an issue with it, for whatever reason, they could opt out of their children visiting and caring for the pigs."
The parent added that Mr Harris was "keen for children to know the provenance of food and to be able to make informed decisions around where meat comes from, and hopefully encourage more people to make the choice of free range meats and animal products".
The online petition against the plans was set up by one of the primary school's former pupils, Ix Willow.
Writing online, she said: "My main concerns are with the well being of these pigs... and the message that we will be teaching the children at Farsley Farfield that it is okay to exploit and kill animals with the only justification being that people enjoy eating their bodies.
"Pigs are as intelligent as dogs and at least as smart as a three-year-old human child. They are friendly animals that can live for about 12 years or so.
"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."
And others seem to agree with the petition.
Totally unnecessary. Parents should be educating their children about food before school. Another thing teachers are expected to do for parents!
- Lorna Diane (@lornadiane1) April 29, 2019
No. It's a step too far. These children would have grown to love these animals. They could be taught this at any other stage.
- Mazawattee (@CathcartRoad) April 29, 2019
The Gloucester Old Spot breed pigs at Farsley Farfield Primary are part of a mini farm on the school's grounds, which also contains vegetable patches and hens.
And the school was named 'healthy school of the year' at a national ceremony called the Times Educational Supplement's schools awards in 2017.
In a blog post on the school's website, headteacher Mr Harris explained: "Through keeping the pigs the children will learn more about the provenance of their food and issues around animal welfare.
"I think that we are raising awareness of the meat industry, and some of the issues around animal welfare and sustainability.
"The pigs will live twice as long as commercial pigs and appear to be enjoying their outdoor life with plenty of opportunity to root around. Their welfare standards are much higher than most pigs.
"I don't think that we are desensitising the children, I suggest that our children will be more knowledgeable and sensitive to animal welfare than most of their peers."
He also described the school farm as a "tremendous long-term success", giving pupils a "better understanding" of where their food comes from.
Mr Harris added: "A key element of this project is to discuss the need to reduce meat consumption."
The school already has one 'meat free' day a week and there are boards at the farm explaining why meat consumption must be reduced.
Mr Harris said he was aware of the petition and that he "respects people's individual views".
Despite one supportive parent said: "Despite some individual's views on social media I think having the pigs on the 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."
Another said: "All of my children have attended this great school.
"I fully support the teaching of the pig's life cycle, children should be made aware of where their food comes from."
Recent research suggests that more and more of us are turning to lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle over concerns for animal welfare or climate change - figures indicate 3.5 million Brits follow a vegan diet and lifestyle.
Meat consumption is one of the biggest players in climate change as its production emits methane and other greenhouse gases and produces masses of physical waste.
Pupil Charlotte Heap, 11, also defended her school, explaining that they've always know the pigs would be reared for meat.
She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "We're not seeing the slaughter and we don't have anything to do with it. Most of us are fine with the idea."
Charlotte added: "[Mr Harris] wants people to make their own choices in life and to know where their food actually comes from. I think that's important."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS