Animals in the classroom

Many teachers keep animals in their classrooms, either as pets or as part of a teaching program. Pets bring happiness and responsibility. When deciding whether to have a classroom pet, there is a lot to consider.

Undertaking to provide all of an animal's needs in the classroom is a major commitment and there are some special things that apply to these situations.

Animals need continuous care. Classrooms may be regularly uninhabited for 63 hours at a stretch (from 5pm on Friday to 8am on Monday), let alone 5 to 6 weeks of summer holidays. That's plenty of time for something to go seriously wrong.

Have a look at our page on classroom pets to see if this is a good idea for your classroom.

Animals in science lessons

As well as having classroom companionship, you may be thinking about using animals during science lessons. These are normally short term programs where animals provide a particular educational outcome.

Using animals as educational tools for the teaching of science is only legally permissible when there are no alternative, non-animal methods that would achieve the same result.

More details on the legal prerequisites for using animals in science teaching can be found on our teaching using animals section.

Use of livestock in teaching

Teaching agricultural subjects may require the use of livestock. Providing continuous, competent care can be challenging for schools.

Animals owned by schools need the same attention and access to feed, water and veterinary care as on any farming property.

There are some extra responsibilities under the law for farm animals kept on school farms.

Page last updated: 12 Jul 2021