DSC_0995The Welsh Government’s ongoing curriculum review offers a “perfect opportunity” to inspire a kinder generation, who are empathetic towards all sentient beings.

That’s the message from RSPCA Cymru – who have responded this week to the Welsh Government’s consultation on a new draft curriculum for Wales.

Proposals would see traditional Key Stages in Wales replaced with Progression Steps, and the curriculum based around six Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLEs).

RSPCA Cymru have long called for animal welfare to be included in Wales’ curriculum – but also believe new AoLEs proposals offer an ideal opportunity to ensure animals, and their needs, support learning objectives.

A proposed level five progression step from the Welsh Government aims to ensure that, by the age of 16, young people can “empathise” to help them be “compassionate and kind” towards themselves and others.

The animal welfare charity has called for that AoLE to be amended, to add the words – “including animals and all sentient beings”. This – the RSPCA believes – would encourage teachers to utilise animal welfare messaging to support the teaching of compassion and empathy in pupils.

RSPCA Cymru believe learning about animals, and their needs, encourages individuals to become ambitious and capable, healthy and confident, ethical and informed and enterprising learners. They say animal welfare offers a “prism of learning, which is cross-curricular but has compassion, kindness and responsibility” at its core.

David Allen, RSPCA head of education, said: “Helping young people develop empathy towards animals will not only prevent cruelty happening in the future, but will also help young people to become well-rounded, compassionate citizens.

“We’ve long called for animal welfare to be featured on the school curriculum, and feel the Welsh Government’s plans and ongoing review offers a perfect opportunity for Wales’ young people to reap the benefits from incorporating animals into their learning.

“By expanding one of the progression steps within the proposed ‘Health and Wellbeing’ Area of Learning and Experience to incorporate animals and other sentient beings, the Welsh Government can send an important statement as to how we should value animals in Wales, and how they should play a role in the educational journey.

“We’re excited to be engaging with the Welsh Government’s consultation, and the RSPCA will continue to support teachers and other practitioners working with young people in Wales, to create the next generation of animal ambassadors.”

The call follows the recent launch of the RSPCA’s Generation Kind scheme. This is an ambitious set of prevention programmes aimed at developing empathy and compassion in children and young people.

Schemes include the ‘Compassionate Class’ competition, with Welsh-medium, Cardiff-based Ysgol Gymraeg Coed y Gof recently winning the accolade. Year three pupils were recognised after producing a creative animation to promote animal welfare.

Mr Allen added: “The RSPCA’s Generation Kind scheme is all about inspiring young people to be compassionate, empathetic and understand our fellow living creatures.

“We’ve already seen so many children and young people learn so much about animals, and develop as citizens because of their interaction with the topic of animal welfare.

“By seizing the cross-curricular benefits animal welfare could deliver for young students, we hope the Welsh Government’s new curriculum can work hand-in-hand with our Generation Kind scheme to ensure a kinder, compassionate future for Wales.”

More information about Generation Kind is available on the RSPCA’s website. If you wish to support the RSPCA and these initiatives, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.