Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said she is “deeply concerned” over the sight of children taking part in pro-Palestinian demonstrations during the school day.
School Strike for Palestine rallies have taken place across the UK, with images on social media showing events in cities including London, Bristol and Glasgow.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Ms Keegan expressed concern about the protest and warned it should be treated with the “utmost seriousness”.
A number of school walkouts have taken place in recent weeks, with some schoolchildren adding their voices to calls for a ceasefire amid the escalating conflict.
Ms Keegan said: “I’m deeply concerned that some children are attending political protests during the school day – even more so if they’re taking part in, or being exposed to, antisemitic chants.
“This should be treated with the utmost seriousness – missing school for activism is unacceptable.”
Earlier, schoolchildren handed in a petition calling for a ceasefire to representatives at Bristol’s City Hall.
The signatures, many written in felt tip pen, were collected by youngsters who have attended the school strike for Palestine outside over the past three weeks.
Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party and councillor for Clifton Down ward in the city, collected the petition during the event on Friday morning.
Speaking in Bristol, Ms Denyer told pupils and protesters: “Thank you for taking a stand for Palestine and for calling for a ceasefire.
“The abhorrent situation in Palestine and Israel must end.
“I know we are all horrified by the Hamas attacks and we all want the immediate release of the hostages.
“Those atrocities do not in any way justify the level of bombardment of civilians, including many Gazan children, that has shocked the world.”
The war, now in its sixth week, was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack in southern Israel, in which the militants killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and captured some 240 men, women and children.
According to Palestinian health authorities, at least 11,470 Palestinians have been killed since the war began while about 2,700 people are reported missing.