Free animal care teaching resources

New research confirms the importance of pet education

Should we be teaching children responsibility through learning how to care for pets? Of the 2,500 adults and 400 teachers surveyed by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), 89% of adults and 78% of primary teachers believe so. However, caring for pets is not currently taught at 60% of primary schools, which presents an obvious disparity.

In response to their findings, the PFMA has helped establish the Education Alliance, a collaboration of the UK’s key pet welfare charities and organisations including Blue Cross, PDSA and RSPCA. Together, the Alliance has launched – a free website giving teachers access to each organisation’s resources in one place.

The website’s interactive map allows users to find pet establishments they can visit as well as organisations that will come to schools to do demonstrations: these were rated as the best methods of teaching about pets by the teachers surveyed. As 74% of the schools currently teaching about pets do so through conventional classroom-based lessons, also provides links to interesting resources and lesson plans that make learning about pets fun.

Teachers, such as Debbie Lavelle, who works at St Vincent’s Primary School in London, have welcome the new resource. “Trying to organise a trip or outreach is always time consuming,” she says. “It is great that all the resources are accessible from one website, saving me from having to search individually.”

But the Alliance believes further work must be done. It is concerned that the Curriculum Review is putting the existing opportunities for teaching children about pet care at risk, so members will be lobbying for a ‘thread’ of pet welfare education throughout the curriculum.

Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive of PFMA, states: “We know that education from an early age is key to achieving our objectives of responsible pet ownership, which is why PFMA initiated the Education Alliance to work on collaborative projects, created and why the alliance will continue to work together to improve pet education in the UK.”

Pie Corbett