PSC target primary kids in lit festival

Primary school pupils will be encouraged to write about "children under occupation" at a literature festival organised by pro-Palestinian campaigners.

The workshops will encourage children to examine "the themes of human rights" through rap, poetry and short story-writing.

Schools taking part in the Tottenham Palestine Literature Festival, organised by the Haringey Justice for Palestinians branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, will send pupils to workshops and classes led by anti-Israel activists later this month.

Department for Education guidance suggests headteachers and local authorities prevent pupils under the age of 12 from taking part in political activities while at school.

Participants in the four-day festival, which begins on September 29 (the first day of Rosh Hashanah), include film-maker Peter Kosminsky, Israeli-born academic Haim Bresheeth, and former Children's Laureate, poet Michael Rosen.

At least eight schools from the north London boroughs of Islington and Hackney are expected to take part.

Board of Deputies' chief executive Jon Benjamin said: "Given the PSC's recent activity, we find it extremely troubling that this local branch is now directing its highly political agenda to primary school children."

Haringey Council encouraged headteachers to withdraw their pupils and said there was a "duty to respect the sensitivities and concerns of all", following last month's London riots. If the children took part in the festival, the council said, it could "unnecessarily upset the harmony" it was "striving to reinforce".

A Haringey Council spokeswoman said: "We will be asking head teachers to reconsider whether it might be better to suspend these sessions, at least until they have considered their content against the context of wider social and religious affairs education."

A spokesman for Islington Council said: "Serious concerns have been raised with us about some of the participants in this festival and we will be passing these on to the schools."

Last updated: 12:31pm, September 8 2011