As the findings are released, the UK’s animal welfare charities collaborate and launch a new website with all their resources in one place
Today, two new surveys[i] conducted by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA)[ii] among 2,500 adults and 400 teachers confirm the need to teach about pets in schools. 89% of adults, 78% of primary teachers and 70% of secondary teachers all agree that it is important to teach responsibility through learning how to care for pets. More adults thought it was important to teach younger children how to care for pets than it was to teach them about sex education and money management[iii]. Unfortunately the research among teachers revealed that caring for pets is not currently taught at 60% of primary and 85% of secondary schools.
To highlight the importance of pet care education, 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[iv]. To make teachers’ lives a little simpler, this group today launches www.peteducationresources.co.uk. This is a unique and free website giving teachers and anyone with a love of pets, access to all of their educational resources in one place. The Education Alliance is united by a belief that children and young people should be educated both about caring for animals and the importance of providing for an animal's Five Welfare Needs[v].
The website’s interactive map allows users to find pet establishments that 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.[vi] As 74% of the schools currently teaching about pets do so through conventional classroom-based lessons, peteducationresources.co.uk also provide links to interesting resources and lesson plans that make learning about pets fun.
Teachers welcome this new resource with 68% of primary teachers surveyed agreeing they are likely to use an educational website such as this. Debbie Lavelle, teacher at St Vincent’s Primary School in London, says: “Trying to organise a trip or outreach is always time consuming and it is great that all the resources are accessible from one website, saving me from having to search individually.”
Sean Wensley, Senior Veterinary Surgeon for Communication and Education at PDSA adds: “PDSA is delighted to be part of this collaboration of pet charities and organisations. Between us, we provide a wealth of high quality information on pet health and welfare. We hope that making all of these resources available from a single website will raise awareness of the materials available and make credible, evidence-based information easy to locate and access.”
Peteducationresources.co.uk will help those 64% of schools not teaching about pets at all engage with pet welfare education. But the Alliance believes further work must be done. It is concerned that the current Curriculum Review is putting the current opportunities for teaching children about pet care at risk, so members will be lobbying for a ‘thread’ of pet welfare education throughout the curriculum so children understand how they should care for pets, and why they should do so. 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 peteducationresources.co.uk and why the alliance will continue to work together to improve pet education in the UK.”
For more information call Nicola Growcott on 0207 379 9009 or email Nicola@pfma.org.uk.
Notes to Editor
[i] Survey conducted online by TNS among 2,500 UK adults. Research with over 400 teachers conducted online by Research Interactive.
[ii] The principal trade body representing the UK pet food industry. .
[iii] 81% of UK adults surveyed thought teaching responsibility through learning for pets was important for primary school children in comparison to 71% who thought sex education was important and 76% who thought managing money was important.
[iv] Member organisations include: Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Cats Protection, Dogs Trust, Guide Dogs, National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), National Pet Month (NPM), People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), Pet Health Council (PHC), Pet Care Trust (PCT), Raystede, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Society of Companion Animal Studies (SCAS), Wood Green, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
[v] The five welfare needs, arising from the Animal Welfare Act (2006), are:
1. Environment - The need for a suitable living environment
2. Diet - The need for a suitable diet
3. Behaviour - The need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
4. Companionship - The need for appropriate companionship
5. Health - The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
[vi] 64% of teachers said that demonstrations with pets at school would be the best way to teach children about pet ownership and 60% said visits to vets and re-homing centres would the best method.