The role of animal welfare in ESDGC

Christine Davies

University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus, Carmarthen SA31 3EP;

23rd March 2016


Children and young people can learn a great deal from educational activities that involve animals and animal welfare. As well as developing a richer knowledge of aspects of biology, behavior, and habitat, (Aguirre and Orihula, 2010), pupils can also develop greater empathy with animals and other humans (Daly and Suggs, 2010). They can also gain a deeper understanding of the role of human beings in relation to animals, along with the choices and responsibilities associated with this, linking to the Animal Welfare Act, 2006 (Welsh Government, 2016).

Animals are mentioned in several different contexts within the Welsh Government’s 2008 publication ‘Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship: A Common Understanding for Schools’ (Welsh Government, 2008). Indirect references to animal welfare in this publication include: sponsoring an endangered species, listed as a possible ‘school management’ activity in Key Stages 2 and 3; ‘trade in animals’, mentioned within the ‘Choices and decisions’ theme at Key Stage 4. However, there are many other ways in which animal welfare can be incorporated within ESDGC themes, which in turn may integrate with other curriculum areas such as Science, and Personal and Social Education (PSE), Geography, Religious Education (RE).

Examples of animal welfare topics and activities that could be explored within ESDGC at different key stages include:

  • Key Stage 1: pets: role playing: what are they like and what do they do? (dog, cat, rabbit) [links to Science, PSE]
  • Key stage 2: rabbits as pets: design a good home for pet rabbits (based on how rabbits live in the wild) [Links to Science; PSE]
  • Key stage 3: egg production: Farmers planning to produce eggs: what do they need to think about? [links to Science; Food Science; Agricultural Science; Design and Technology; Geography]
  • Key Stage 4: Milk: How is milk produced? What are the pros and cons of dairy farming? Are there alternatives to dairy milk, and what are their pros and cons? (links to Science; Biology; Food Science; Agricultural Science; Design and Technology; PSE; RE)

Some resources to support aspects of animal welfare are available on the Welsh

Government’s resource ‘Hwb’ ( ), though there are many other online sources of information within this area, including resources for teachers from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) ( ), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) (  ), the Rabbit Welfare association (  ) , and Compassion in World Farming ( ).


  • Aguirre, V. and Orihula, A. (2010) ‘Assessment of the impact of an animal welfare educational course with first grade children in rural schools in the state of Morelos’. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38(1), p27-31.
  • Daly, B. and Suggs, S. (2010) ‘Teachers' experiences with humane education and animals in the elementary classroom: implications for empathy development’. Journal of Moral Education, 39 (1), p101-112
  • Welsh Government (2008) Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship: A Common Understanding for Schools. [online] Available at: . (Accessed16.2.16)
  • Welsh Government (2016) Animal Welfare Act 2006. [online] Available at: (Accessed16.2.16)