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Kindness is the key to the SSPCA’s education activity

20 October 2020

Ahead of Bonfire Night – a stressful time of year for animals – Gilly Mendes Ferreira explains the role of the SSPCA in supporting schools in Scotland to nurture empathy, compassion and a greater sense of appreciation for animal welfare

Education is at the cornerstone of the Scottish SPCA’s work. As Scotland’s animal welfare charity, we exist not only to prevent cruelty but to promote kindness. Our core belief is that the strength of the human-animal bond benefits all, and that shapes all of our educational activity.

This month we launched Animal WISE (click here to find out more), our revamped educational programme for schools and communities.

We want to support every school in Scotland as a key partner, and not just through delivery of one-off annual workshops. We want to support children’s health and wellbeing; enhance their skills when it comes to literacy and numeracy; offer innovative ways to engage with STEM and inspire future career pathways.

Our ongoing collaborative research with the University of Edinburgh helps us ensure our animal welfare education workshops are effective. We have published research (click here to read) that shows by teaching animal welfare you can have a significant impact on increasing a child’s knowledge about animals, help to develop positive attitudes towards them and influence a child’s belief that animals have feelings.

By working together, we believe we can support schools in Scotland to nurture empathy, compassion and a greater sense of appreciation for animal welfare in Scotland.

We want to provide unique opportunities that empower pupils to be pioneers within their schools and have a positive impact on the wider community. Animal WISE encourages pupils of all ages and abilities to work together, increase their knowledge and awareness of animal welfare and be inspired to make a difference through engaging with various educational activities.

Our programmes align with Curriculum for Excellence so there is a wealth of tools that can be used by teachers from early years through to secondary school. We want all pupils to be responsible citizens and our workshops encourage everyone to work in teams and demonstrate that they can be effective contributors.

Education goes beyond the classroom, and we are working hard to help people of all ages to better understand how they can care for animals and how the choices they make can impact them.

At this time of year, one of the biggest challenges we face is the effect of fireworks on animals. That’s why we’re running #FireworkSafety, a multi-agency effort to tackle the dangers of fireworks. We’re doing this by joining forces with the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, ROSPA, NHS Scotland, British Vets Association and many others.

As a result of there being no organised public displays, we predict a rise in private sales. At this time of year, our animal helpline gets more calls about fireworks-related injuries and accidents involving animals. They cause great distress to pets, wildlife and farm animals.

You can follow our campaign on social media and via our website. Our advice when using fireworks is: Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Smart.

Click here to find out more about the work of the SSPCA

Gilly Mendes Ferreira is the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Head of Education, Policy & Research

About the author

Gilly Mendes Ferreira is the SSPCA’s Head of Education, Policy & Research

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