Teaching with Animals

​​Purpose of this policy

To ensure that all Victorian schools comply with legislation, and codes for the responsible care of animals, used for scientific purposes, in teaching.


Schools must:

  • consider if they can replace, reduce or refine their use of animals in teaching
  • treat all animals with respect and consideration, ensuring that the level of care for animals is maintained over holidays and weekends.
  • gain approval from the Victorian Schools Animal Ethics Committee (VSAEC) before animals are used for scientific purposes in teaching, if activities have not been pre-approved
  • not use an animal in more than one scientific activity, either in the same or different projects, without approval from VSAEC
  • maintain records of animal care and use for audit inspection by VSAEC
  • take care to prevent the spread of disease with hygiene and minimal handling of animals
  • seek written consent from the parents/carers and students to take animals home beyond completion of a teaching unit
  • not keep animal(s) at school if appropriate level of care and welfare cannot be provided.

Note:  If a student brings a sick, injured and orphaned animal to the school, a veterinary practitioner or the RSPCA should be contacted to handle the matter.

VSAEC – scope and approvals

VSAEC considers and approves activity applications from schools relating to the use of animals for scientific purposes in teaching. It meets five times a year. The Department's Teaching with Animals website provides advice and resources for schools including information relating to:

  • when and how to apply to VSAEC for approval
  • the decision making process when considering the use of animals
  • prohibited, pre-approved and approval-required activities
  • planning teaching activity guidance
  • approval and reporting system
  • frequently asked questions
  • species notes.\

Note that the remit of VSAEC is limited to the use of animals for scientific purposes in teaching. VSAEC does not consider or provide advice on the use of animals in schools for other purposes.

Story/Therapy Dogs and school pets

School pets (such as chickens) or animals used for classroom and environmental enrichment (such as Story/Therapy Dogs) do not require approval from VSAEC. However, the primary concern of the school must be the welfare of these animals at all times, including the provision of care during weekends and school holidays (if applicable) and veterinary care when needed.

Related policies

Related legislation and regulations

  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1986)
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations (2008)
  • Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (8th Edition, 2013)
  • Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Laboratory Mice, Rats, Guinea Pigs and Rabbits
  • Wildlife Act (1975) and Regulations (2013)