24th October 2008 at 01:00

English teachers are signing a petition calling for the reinstatement of a Carol Ann Duffy poem that was dropped from an exam board's anthology because of concerns about knife crime.

The AQA exam board contacted schools last month asking them to destroy copies of "Education for Leisure", which it has removed from its syllabus.

But Michele Ledda, an English teacher in Yorkshire, has set up an online petition calling for the poem's reinstatement.

The petition has only been mentioned on a handful of websites. Neverthless it has attracted more than 100 signatures from English teachers and poets.

Mr Ledda said the number of supporters was significant as the poem had been dropped after just three complaints to AQA.

"One of those complaints wasn't even about knife crime - it was from someone interested in animal rights, objecting to a line in the poem in which a goldfish was flushed down the toilet," he said.

"The idea that the poem causes knife crime is ludicrous. It doesn't portray the character sympathetically, and even if it did, that would not be cause for censoring it."

Mr Ledda said he was concerned at the precedent set by the decision to drop the poem, pointing out that Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet also contain knife crime.

The Hands Off Poetry! petition is available to sign at www.petitiononline.comhdsoffppetition.html.

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