Teaching using animals
Animals are sometimes used to teach scientific concepts in schools. This requires special consideration of whether the educational benefits of the use of animals justifies the impact on the animals themselves. The use of animals as teaching tools is controversial.
One consideration is the transience of the program, and especially what will happen to the animals afterwards. Another is the relevance and importance of bringing a live animal into the classroom to illustrate a principle that could potentially be demonstrated with a video or an excursion.
To balance and consider these issues, the law requires all use of animals in scientific teaching to be approved by an independent committee called an Animal Ethics Committee. To access an Animal Ethics Committee, schools must hold a licence to use animals.
This applies to all Victorian Government, Catholic and Independent primary and secondary schools. Keeping of classroom pets does not require a licence, or animal ethics approval; but your pet can't be used to teach part of the curriculum: they have to be treated just like a home pet.
Licences are granted by the Licensing and Audit Branch of the department. All Government schools are included under a single licence held by the Victorian Department of Education and Training. Independent schools and Catholic schools, however, must apply for their own individual licences, which are free of charge.
The Victorian Schools Animal Ethics Committee (VSAEC) provides an animal ethics service for all Victorian government, Catholic and Independent schools seeking permission to use animals in scientific learning activities in schools.
For more information on the VSAEC and their services please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember that you must have Animal Ethics Committee approval in place before you start using animals for teaching. This applies to all learning activities using animals in Victorian Government, Catholic and Independent primary and secondary schools.
This flowchart will help you work through the legal requirements of using animals for teaching.