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Last reviewed on 21 April 2017
Ref: 8809
School types: All · School phases: All

Can we keep a school pet? We explain that it is up to schools whether to keep a pet, although it is not recommended by animal welfare charities. This article relays guidance on keeping exotic pets and handling animals in school, and links to examples of pet policies.

Government guidance

A representative from the Department for Education (DfE) confirmed that it is down to schools to decide whether to get a school pet. The Department does not issue guidance on this.

Contact DfE, GOV.UK – DfE

If schools decide to get a pet, they must abide by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which places a duty on animal owners to ensure their animal's welfare needs are met. These needs include:

  • Suitable environment
  • Suitable diet
  • Ability to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • Any need the animal has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Animal Welfare Act 2006: section 9, legislation.gov.uk

We spoke to the National Animal Welfare Trust, an animal charity, about whether schools should keep pets. A representative said that the charity generally discourages the keeping of pets in school. This is partly because there is often no one available to

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