Alternatives to classroom pets

In light of your recent feature about classroom pets (TES, Friday magazine, September 6) we would like to clarify the RSPCA's policies on animals and education.

Education is a central part of the society's work. RSPCA Education's aim is to encourage young people and children to appreciate animals and understand their needs. The society has 60 full and part-time education officers who work in schools across England and Wales. They don't take animals into the classroom because there are other effective ways of teaching animal welfare.

We ask schools to think carefully before getting a classroom pet. Any new owner needs to be sure that they have the time and resources to look after the pet for the rest of its life.

A pet is a 24-hour responsibility and it can be costly. Sadly the RSPCA has to find new homes for more than 90,000 animals that are abandoned or whose owners simply didn't appreciate the responsibilities that they were taking on.

The society has never sought a ban on the keeping of animals in schools at any level. We do have concerns about animal care in some schools, but we have no evidence to support the assertion that too many animals live in appalling conditions.

If you want to find out more on alternative ways of teaching about animals and their needs, RSPCAEducation has a wide range of curriculum-linked resources such as videos, packs and posters. See our website - www.rspca.org.uk - or call 0870 3335 999 during office hours.

David Allen Head of education RSPCA

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