One of the most important findings from our survey to NZ schools was an urgent need to educate teachers and school administrators about the current laws and regulations in NZ.
In fact, 30.9% of participating schools were not familiar with any regulations regarding animal use in schools.
RULES TO FOLLOW
Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, research, testing and teaching involving manipulating live animals may require ethics approval. This requirement applies to animals used in schools and school activities.1
Dissections performed as part of a school’s curriculum should be in line with the Code of Ethical Conduct, overseen by the Schools' Animal Ethics Committee of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators (NZASE).
The NZASE Code of Ethical Conduct encourages teachers to consider using computer-generated and 3-dimensional models as a replacement for animal remains in teaching situations that require dissection. You can read more here.
If you are using animals for teaching purposes beyond routine care for classroom pets, you likely need to apply for approval from the Schools’ Animal Ethics Committee.
Not getting the required approval is a breach of the Animal Welfare Act. Retrospective approval will not be given under any circumstances!
It is your responsibility to check about a project requiring ethics approval beforehand.2
The New Zealand Schools’ Animal Ethics Committee has many great resources to help you determine if you need approval, such as the poster below.3
You can find more information about the use of animals in your teaching and a guide on applying for ethics approval on their website.
The Ministry of Education's guidelines state that all material for dissections must be obtained from a reputable source and suggests a web-based dissection as an alternative for students who do not wish to participate in the activity.
The Code of Professional Responsibility sets out the high standards for ethical behaviour that are expected of every teacher. The Standards for the Teaching Profession describe the expectations of effective teaching practice.4
The Code and Standards apply to every certified teacher, regardless of role or teaching environment, and to those who have been granted a Limited Authority to Teach. Together they outline what it means to be a teacher in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The code includes commitments to
- providing high-quality and effective teaching
- promoting the well-being of learners and protecting them from harm
- engaging in ethical and professional relationships with learners
- promoting inclusive practices to support the needs and abilities of all learners
- being fair and effectively managing my assumptions and personal beliefs
- promoting and protecting the principles of human rights, sustainability and social justice.
Such commitments support the use of alternative methods to animal dissections in teaching.