Checklist for principals

A quick checklist for principals.

Each year the Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee (SACEC) issues an Animal Research Authority, on behalf of the respective school sector, to schools in NSW that are accredited with the Department of Primary Industries.

This authorises those staff who sign the authority, to use animals for the purposes of teaching and research, provided that the activities are in accordance with the provisions described on the Animals in schools website.

Each school that uses animals for any educational activity must hold a current and completed Animal Research Authority. Further information is available at Animal Research Authority.

In NSW all native mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act. Schools are permitted to keep native animals if the following conditions are met. A teacher is responsible for the animals and:

  • holds a scientific licence
  • has or gains an appropriate depth of understanding of the physical and behavioural needs of the species kept
  • obtains animals from licensed breeders or keepers.

Further information about applying for a scientific licence is available at Australian native animals.

Roles and responsibilities for:

  • The SACEC
  • School sectors
  • The school
  • The Principal
  • The Animal Welfare Liaison Officer
  • The teacher
  • The student

are described in responsibilities. Ignorance is no excuse in the law and school staff must understand and accept responsibility for their use of animals.

The notes for each species contain standards and guidelines. The standards must be met by schools, in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Research Authority. The guidelines are the desirable practices to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes.

All activities that may be carried out using animals in schools have been categorised according to their potential to cause pain or stress to the animals. A full list of these is at Approved activities. The following must be noted:

  • Category 1 – 3 activities are preapproved and may be carried out without any further approval
  • Category 4 and 5 activities may only be undertaken by students if prior written approval from the SACEC has been obtained using Application form 1. Category 4 activities may be demonstrated by a teacher without written approval from the SACEC
  • Category 5 activities must only be demonstrated by a teacher or farm assistant once written approval has been obtained from the SACEC. A category 5 activity may be demonstrated to students by a veterinarian or qualified technician without written SACEC approval.

If an incident compromising the welfare of any animal occurs at the school the procedures listed at Serious incidents involving animals should be followed.

The Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes requires that animal wellbeing is monitored by competent people at all stages and sites of animal care and use. The scope of day-to-day monitoring must be clearly outlined and communicated to all parties.

In accordance with the responsibilities of the principal, the principal must provide resources and support to ensure that appropriate levels of monitoring are carried out for the animals used by the school. Advice about ‘appropriate monitoring’ can be found at Monitoring.

The care and management of dogs used to provide emotional support in schools must be compliant with the School support dog guidelines.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
Return to top of page Back to top