A secondary school has issued an apology after dozens of its students dropped their pens and walked out of the classroom to show support for Palestine.

Children at Varndean Secondary School in Brighton ditched their lessons to attend a pro-Palestine march in the city centre - which left some "terrified" while they chanted the controversial "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" slogan.

But the headteacher at the state school has said she is sorry to anyone who was affected by the protest - and staff are "holding discussions" after the demonstration.

The youngsters left the classroom and walked through the city centre on Friday towards Jubilee Square, where they gathered with other students and adults who organised the event - despite warnings from the school that this would count as an "unauthorised" absence.

The Argus: A poster for the protestA poster for the protest (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

British Israeli Adam Ma'anit told The Argus: “Hamas terrorists chant the same genocidal slogans that are now being shouted on Brighton streets.

"Seeing those kids calling for the wiping out of Israel is chilling.

"My family are still reeling from the murder of our beloved teenage relative and my 14-year-old daughter is terrified.

"The schools have to take action.”

The slogan "From the River to the Sea" refers to the area between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, which covers Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer MP has described the chant as "extremely offensive". She told LBC the chant "is calling for the eradication of the state of Israel and by analogy, therefore, the eradication of the Jews within Israel".

But other campaigners argue it is simply calling for "equality" for residents of the Palestinian state.

Video captured from the protest shows youngsters, mostly from Brighton secondary schools such as Varndean, aged between 11 and 16 taking part in the chants.

The Argus: Shelley outside the schoolShelley outside the school

Headteacher Shelley Baker said: "The school is currently responding to the involvement of some students in Friday’s protest.

“We are holding discussions with students and families and reaching out to members of the local community as part of our response.

“We apologise to anyone who has been affected by the events that took place on Friday."

The Argus: A previous Palestine protest in the capitalA previous Palestine protest in the capital (Image: James Manning/PA)

Organisers encouraged activists to write a letter to their school's headteacher to take a stance on the conflict.

A 518-word template was shared online.

It reads: "Our school has admirably encouraged students to participate in and express support for the oppressed people of Ukraine, who have been enduring a challenging situation due to the conflict with Russia.

"This support and awareness-raising activities have been commendable and in line with our values of empathy and social responsibility.

"However, I have noticed a discrepancy in the way the school is approaching the situation in Palestine, where the people have been oppressed for a century now."

The letter suggested that schools are "discouraging" children from "showing support for the oppressed people of Palestine".

The protest was organised by the Stop The War coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign - who are behind the marches in London each weekend.