A SCHOOL which came under fire for giving away goldfish as prizes at a summer fete has pledged it will not do so in the future.

Turton School, in Bromley Cross, found itself at the centre of controversy after staging its first summer fair in July.

Goldfish were handed out as prizes — which sparked a heated debate on The Bolton News’ letters page.

The school said the animal prizes were given out by staff working on the fairground, but headteacher John Porteous has said fish will no longer be handed out at such events.

The Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS) asked the headteacher to consider banning goldfish prizes at future events.

In a letter to the society, Mr Porteous said he agreed with the animal welfare concerns raised by the charity and confirmed that the school “will not be repeating the experience”.

Craig Redmond, campaigns director for CAPS, said: “We congratulate Turton High School for recognising how inappropriate it is for animals to be given as prizes and the poor example this gives to young people about how to treat animals.

“Animals are not objects to be won, like cuddly toys. Their welfare is at risk when people take home a fish they do not have the facilities to care for. Many die soon after.

“Unfortunately the Government reneged on its plan to ban the giving of animals as prizes although many councils do prevent the practice on council-owned land.

“We would urge the public to be vigilant and report these cases to us so we can investigate them.”

Mary Rudkin who saw the goldfish being given out at the school fair, welcomed the move. She also called on other schools to follow suit.

She said: “I would like the education authority to stop fish being given out at all school fetes.

“I believe it was an oversight by Turton but by allowing this on the school premises, it looks as though it is being condoned and that it is OK to obtain pets this way.

“I’m pleased that this incident has raised the profile of this. Had puppies or cats been given away this way, there would have been an outcry.”

A Bolton Council spokesman said attractions at fetes were a matter for schools and their governing bodies.