Should animal welfare be part of the national curriculum? UK teachers and equine welfare experts believe so.

A recent survey by the RSPCA shows that 95% of teachers say children learning about animal welfare would help make them more compassionate and socially aware.

The survey of almost 800 teachers across England and Wales also revealed that 83% felt animal welfare should be part of the national curriculum.

H&H vet Karen Coumbe believes this could benefit horse welfare and raise awareness, “provided it was presented from an unbiased educational stance”.

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

The charity has created over 90 free lesson plans for teachers, linked to the English and Welsh curricula.

“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,” she added.

World Horse Welfare supports the idea, stating: “Education is essential to tackling the root causes of welfare problems in the UK and worldwide.

“Most welfare problems we see are not due to cruelty, but to a lack of basic horse care knowledge,” said a spokesman for the charity.

“At all our centres, we encourage children to learn about what horses need to thrive. We work closely with a local secondary school in Blackpool to teach animal care as part of its curriculum.

“There’s a surprising number of skills needed to care for a horse, especially numeracy when measuring out feed or weighing and measuring horses to ensure a healthy weight.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound on 12 June 2014