Schools to get SPCA's animal respect message

By Christine McKay

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Dannevirke dairy farmer and part-time teacher, Jaime Arnold (left) her son, Parker, and Laura Phillips, Dannevirke SPCA manager and animal welfare inspector trainee, discussing a new SPCA education in schools programme. Photo / Christine McKay
Dannevirke dairy farmer and part-time teacher, Jaime Arnold (left) her son, Parker, and Laura Phillips, Dannevirke SPCA manager and animal welfare inspector trainee, discussing a new SPCA education in schools programme. Photo / Christine McKay

The welfare of animals is at the heart of everything Laura Phillips, the centre manager for Dannevirke SPCA, does.

Now, with the SPCA launching its new education programme for schools, she wants all teachers in Tararua to be aware of the resources and to get it working for them and their students.

The programme, which has already been trialled in 22 Auckland schools, is aimed at significantly reducing animal abuse.

"Animals deserve our love and respect, and the resources are easy for most kids to relate to," she said.

"They can identify with their own stories and will have a lot of fun while they learn.

"Research shows kids learn best when there is a continuity of ideas and messages and while I love going and talking to primary school kids at one-off assemblies, I can see this new programme will be a much more integrated and structured approach."

Laura has introduced the concepts behind the new programme to Dannevirke share farmer of the year and part-time teacher, Jaime Arnold, who can see the benefits.

"It's exciting," Jaime said.

"Animals are part of most families around here and anything which helps break the cycle of neglect is fantastic," she said. "Having something like this which ties in with our curriculum and education strands which is online and easily accessible is great. I can see this fitting with the run-up to our lamb and calf day."

Laura is hoping to have more conversations with local teachers and says she believes the online resources will teach children meaningful skills as well as getting them thinking about respect for animals and pets, alongside their normal subject learning in maths, English and science.

"Locally we'd still love to be invited into the classroom to hear how children are learning," she said.

"In my other role as an animal welfare inspector trainee, I see the major cause of animal abuse and neglect in our local area is basically due to a lack of education. This programme aims to reduce the suffering of countless animals and to increase the confidence, knowledge and compassion of our next generation of Kiwis."

The free SPCA schools programme has taken two years to develop and throughout the 12-month trial period at 22 schools in Auckland, teachers gave it rave reviews.

"That's because it's not another thing to try to squeeze into their lesson plans, it's designed to fit in nicely and give teachers new and exciting ways to teach their students," Laura said.

The online programme has been designed for two stages of education, primary and secondary, and the resources give teachers everything they need to put straight into their existing lesson plans, along with an on-line portal for students to give them access to information and fun resources as well.

"Students and teachers can use maths to calculate the cost of owning a pet and debate issues, such as, should pets be de-sexed," Laura said. "It's aimed at fostering understanding, compassion and respect towards animals.

"I think students will take home the information from school and share it with their families, so it'll be a less threatening message and I hope in 10 years time we'll see less animal welfare issues because of this programme."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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