Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 15:40 UK

School row lamb sent to slaughter

Marcus the sheep
The children have fed Marcus the sheep by hand

A school lamb that was hand-reared for meat by Kent pupils learning about the food chain has been slaughtered despite a national row over his fate.

Lydd Primary decided to send neutered male Marcus to slaughter earlier than planned, Kent County Council said.

TV host Paul O'Grady offered to buy him and a pupil's mother objected to his killing but head teacher Andrea Charman said the move had overwhelming support.

Animal welfare campaigners want the school to end its slaughter programme.

In a statement issued following Marcus's slaughter over the weekend, Ms Charman said: "The decision to send the Wether lamb for meat, which has the support of the school council and staff, the governing body and the majority of parents, has now been carried out.

It is now the perfect chance to introduce humanity, compassion, respect and understanding to the school instead of betrayal

"When we started the farm in spring 2009, the aim was to educate the children in all aspects of farming life and everything that implies.

"The children have had a range of opportunities to discuss this issue, both in terms of the food cycle and the ethical aspect.

"There is overwhelming support for the school, locally and further afield.

"It is important for everyone to move on from this issue, so the children can focus on their education."

Parent Tina Goodyer: ''Some children have been highly traumatised''

Marcus had been due to be slaughtered on Monday.

Ms Charman started the farm, which also has rabbits, guinea pigs, cockerels and ducks, after she joined the school in January.

Last term, the school council - made up of 14 seven to 11-year-olds - voted 13 to one in favour of sending Marcus to slaughter rather than keeping him.

The school now plans to buy pigs to use them to make sausages.

The animal protection charity, Peta, said it had contacted Ms Charman asking for the slaughter programme to be shut down.

A letter to Ms Charman, sent before news of Marcus' slaughter was released, said: "We urge you once again to spare Marcus' life - teaching the children how animals feel love, joy, fear and pain, just like us.

"We also ask that you shut this programme down.

"The children have got to know and love Marcus and it is now the perfect chance to introduce humanity, compassion, respect and understanding to the school instead of betrayal."


Head teacher Andrea Charman explaining last week the purpose of the school farm and the children's involvement

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