A survey has revealed more than 80% of teachers believe animal welfare should be part of the national curriculum.

The survey, carried out in April by the RSPCA, received 737 responses from teachers across England and Wales and showed 95% of those surveyed thought teaching animal welfare would help children be more compassionate.

Results also revealed more than 92% would teach animal welfare in the classroom if they had the time. It has been argued encouraging children to respect and care for animals can help them become more caring, compassionate, and responsible.

While it is hoped parents teach these skills at home, the RSPCA believes teachers can also play a vital role in helping develop greater empathy and better social skills.

RSPCA formal education manager Claire Morris said: “We felt it is easy to sit on the sidelines and state animal welfare should be part of the curriculum, but it is far more practical and helpful to show it can be done.”

To address these issues and assist teachers, the RSPCA has created more than 90 free lesson plans linked to the English and Welsh curricula.

Many of the lesson plans overlap in key subject areas including science, citizenship, literacy and numeracy.

Ms Morris added: “We urge the Government to consider integrating animal welfare into our children’s education as a matter of urgency as skills such as empathy, compassion and social consciousness have value as a child goes through the education system as well as when they enter adulthood and the world of work.”  

The survey showed 70% of teachers knew what the five animal welfare needs were.

The welfare needs – a safe place to live, food and water, the right space/habitat, the right company and good health, are all central to the Animal Welfare Act.

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