Include two mandatory hours of pet care information within UK primary school curriculum.
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This petition seeks to implement an incredibly simple, cost effective and necessary addition to UK primary school education. Two hours (total) per child of age appropriate teaching and discussion regarding pet and animal care (as a tool to aid relevant lessons or within PHSE, for children between the ages of 7 and 11).
Over the last few years there has been a bombardment of media stories showing young people abusing or torturing rural animals or pets, the consequences of which are absolutely heartbreaking for the animals and children.
Although a portion of this will of course be a result of the individual's life experiences and psychological state, I genuinely believe we could stop some of this horrific treatment in the future by reaching children at a young age. The aim being to help them develop their own personal sense of compassion and responsibility towards other sentient beings. Though UK schools have a keen environmental curriculum and encourage a great deal of wildlife knowledge and interaction within sciences and humanities, the basis of this is mainly visual and fact recognition (a fox looks this way, lives here, and eats this, for example). We still lack a nationwide structure to ensure that children understand the animals they come into contact with and help care for every day. Experience in handling exotic animals, which a child may not relate with pet care, just isn’t enough.
Having worked in schools and spent time with young people and children, I am aware that it is a confusing world, where they are shown animals in cages, but also told to care for them sensitively. They fall in love with woodland characters in story books, whilst being fed them for dinner. It is no wonder that some may find it challenging when assessing how to treat creatures they may know very little about, or to understand how they think and feel.
Subsequently, I do not believe there is a lack of scientific discussion around animals and the environment in schools, but a lack of consistency regarding everyday pet care and the reasoning behind why different animals display different behaviours. Most importantly, that they experience relationship bonds and pain, and that we are capable of easily helping them live happier lives.
The idea of this implementation would not be to expose children to upsetting animal cruelty within the world, but simply to encourage a narrative and thoughts about choices regarding how to treat animals they come into contact with. The teacher would have complete autonomy over lessons, or access the topic within PHSE time, a slot I know is often keen to be filled.
If we reach our children at a young age, we provide a holistic foundation to how they care for the world around them. Let’s allow our young generations the information to make strong decisions that benefit them as responsible human beings, whilst taking part in fun and educational lessons!
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