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Introducing openness into education

What are the differences between Key Stage 1 (under 7 years), Key Stage 2 (7-11 years), Key Stage 3 (11-18 years) and further education?

It’s school time again! You’re probably feeling excited and maybe a little sad that summer is over. Some kids feel nervous or a little scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these “new” worries only stick around for a little while. Let’s find out more about going back to school.

The First Day

Most teachers kick off the school year by introducing themselves and talking about all the stuff you’ll be doing that year. Some teachers give students a chance to tell something about themselves to the rest of the class.

When teachers do the talking on the first day, they often go over classroom rules so you’ll know what’s allowed and what’s not. Pay close attention so you’ll know if you need to raise your hand to ask a question and what the rules are about visiting the restroom.

You might already know a lot of kids in your classes on the first day. But it’s a great day to make a new friend, so try to say hello to kids you know and new ones that you don’t. Make the first move and you’ll be glad you did and so will your new friend!

A Bad Start?

What if you hate school by the end of day one? Teachers recommend giving things some time to sort themselves out — once you know your way around the building and get adjusted to the new routine, you’ll probably feel better. If those feelings don’t fade, talk to your mom, dad, teacher, or school counselor.

Here are a few final tips for a fantastic school year:

  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to concentration and hearing loss problems, read these sonus complete customer reviews.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Try your best.
  • Use good work habits, like writing down your assignments and turning in your homework on time.
  • Take your time with school work. If you don’t understand something, ask the teacher.

Moving to Middle School?

Sixth grade often signals a move to middle school or junior high, where you’ll find lockers and maybe a homeroom. This is just what it sounds like — a classroom you’ll go to each morning, kind of like your home in the school. In middle school, you might move from classroom to classroom for each subject. Your teachers know that this is a big change from elementary school and will help you adjust.

Most teachers let you pick your own seat on the first day, but by the second or third morning, they’ll have mapped out a seating plan. At first, it’s a good idea to write down where your seat is in your notebook so you don’t forget.

Feeling Good on Day One

Seeing friends you haven’t seen in a while can make the first day a good one. You also can make the day feel special by wearing an outfit you like. Maybe you got a great T-shirt on vacation, or your new sneakers put a spring in your step. If you wear a uniform, you might wear a favorite watch, a new hair band, or a piece of jewelry to show your personal style.

It can make you feel good to be prepared and have all the supplies you need. Some schools distribute supply lists before the year begins, so you can come stocked up on pencils, folders, and whatever else you’ll be needing. Once you’ve covered the basics, you might tuck an extra few dollars in your backpack for an emergency (like forgetting your lunch money). Or maybe you’d like to bring along a book or magazine to read while you’re on the bus.

Whatever you put in your backpack, make sure you pack it the night before. This prevents the morning panic when you can’t find your homework or lunch box. Speaking of lunch, that’s something else that can help you feel good at school — whether it’s the first day or the 100th day. Help your parents pack it the night before if you don’t like what’s on the menu at the cafeteria. Try to include a variety of foods in your packed lunch, especially fruits and vegetables.

Get Oriented

The first day of school is your first chance to find your way around a new school, or learn the pathways to new classes in your old school. It’s a lot to learn in one day, so don’t be surprised if you need a reminder or two.

It might help to write a few notes to yourself, so you’ll remember the important stuff, like your locker combination and that lunch starts at 11:43, not 12:10. Before you know it, your fingers will fly as you open your locker and you won’t have to check your notes to know what time lunch starts!

Summary of Discussion

The general question was “What sort of level of Openness should we deliver to the different stages of education?”. This was aimed at the outreach and widening participation events that we may host in our institutions but also what is currently experienced through curriculum and general education.

As education increasingly seems to focus on core subjects such as English and Maths, are we failing to implement appropriate science education? Is an awareness of the use of animals in research require as standard education, should this be within biology fields or citizenship and ethics. If it is required, what age is appropriate for this knowledge and discussion


First of all we discussed if animal research and education about this area was on the national curriculum.

KS1 and KS2 are not taught anything specifically about animal research or animal ethics.  It is important to state that although we did discuss the age group and come up with some conclusions about their education, the majority of the discussed was based on KS3 and beyond.

It was generally agreed that the only way that KS3 may learn anything about animal research would be through citizenship or ethics in science lessons. Ethics in science is, however, such a broad topic that it was only some children that would actually learn and discuss this specific area.

It had been assumed that A-levels would cover this areas but Biology A level did not, unless they specialised in animal care. Again the teacher may choose this as an interesting ethical discussion point but it is not compulsory.

We discussed the fact that you actually have to be studying Animal care (level 2 diploma) to learn about animals in research. Module 1 looks at the ethics of research. It was the general experience, however, that tutors lacked knowledge in delivering this subject area.

The attendees experiences

People that attended this session had experience with all stages and the different Key Stages were discussed. There was a mixture of venues for outreach, several people go into schools and colleges and some host events in house. Most went into state schools and academies and did not identify the students that they met as privileged.

Strathclyde does a lot of outreach with 14-15 years as part of ethics in citizenship. The work involves both going out to schools and bringing children into the facility.

UCL as a University loves outreach but the animal facilities are only just starting to think about this. They are beginning by attending careers fairs and found it to be very challenging but ultimately rewarding.  Carole Wilson said  “Children can be very brutal in their assessment”

Laura Roberson from Agenda had a lot of experience educating further education students within the animal care and animal management courses at several universities and colleges (10-12/year). She delivers a selection of lessons and many students get the opportunity to learn a great deal because she is able to give increasingly detailed lectures throughout each course. She finds that quite often the teachers are unable to deliver this subject matter. Initially, she only gained access to these courses because she is an employer, the education of this area was a secondary consideration for higher education.

The RSCPA representative Penny Hawkins shared the interests of the RSPCA in education. They are trying to get animal research education on the agenda at doctoral schools. This training would include the 3Rs, ethics and an insight into how new drugs are discovered.  The RSPCA do not deliver any of this, however, they train the trainer.

Joanne Bland and Claire Allen from the University of Sheffield discussed some of the work that we do.

The University of Sheffield (TUOS) was built on penny donations from the working man to enable their children to attend University. This ethos is still upheld and as such there is a great emphasis on outreach and widening participation at TUOS.

Joanne reported that many Sheffield researchers do go out into schools during science week. They deliver a range of lessons. She is also in the process of developing a programme with widening participation at KS3. There is a July summer school where the animal unit will offer an event on “Animals in research”. Initially this will be optionally but may become compulsory if uptake is low. These events will include a researcher talk and a tour of the facility. Numbers will be limited.

Higher education We frequently host work experience placements for a variety of Animal Management level 3 students and sometimes Applied Science students. We go out into colleges to deliver Animals in Research talks and many researchers get involved giving lectures about their work at events such as A Pint of Science, with one such event entitled “Alternatives to Research Requiring Rodents”.

The general discussion then carried on.

Educating with fish verses mammals.

Is it harder with mammalian species? Absolutely. Yes was the answer. Presenting zebrafish for outreach are pretty easy and rarely provoke a negative response. It is perhaps easy to hide behind fish but it is important not to.

Often the truth about the life of animals in a research facility is not that exciting.

It is important that whatever you are disseminating, where ever it is delivered and to whom, it must be genuine, honest and based on clear facts.

Opening doors and not opening doors

Everyone agreed that more doors needed to be opened (metaphorically). Education needs to be expanded. I would even go so far as to say that this needs to more embedded into specific curriculum, specifically in A level Biology or compulsory citizenship courses. General studies if widely taken would be an ideal area.

Tours do open the doors. Facilities that do run courses such as Sanger, Leicester and Glasgow were all discussed. These are successful.

Concern was raised, and then widely agreed by the  group, that tours of facilities, particularly mammalian facilities, could be counter intuitive to the health and wellbeing of the animals. They may stress animals out. A virtual tour was then discussed where a group of visitors are able to look around a facility through a lens. No area is no-go.

How to run sessions.

In coming views and challenging them to potentially change

Students could be asked to fill out a questionnaire about their opinions at the start of the event and then you can see if you can change their views at the end.

How far can you go showing procedures? How open, how restrictive. Be responsible.

Laura from Agenda does show videos of animals that have undergone procedures- handling, housing and some procedures. This lesson was only delivered after the students have been taught the ethics and basics of animal research. This level was directed at those that are considering a career in animal tech work.

Penny from the RSPCA felt that this would be very much age appropriate.  Some age groups will not respond well and you will not be able to get everyone on board.  With general groups it is very much a case of stick to the facts, educate as many as you can about benefits, but also cover potential risks and problems.

For work experience students they maybe exposed to Schedule 1 procedures so vetting before the placement and explanations of the work is critical. The provider  needs to manage expectations. Knowledge of end points for higher education students should not be left out.

For all ages groups a clear message of; You must take care of yourself and take your medicine. Look after nature, pets, support animals but do not worry about the medicine that you need.

How do you manage a debate?

Helpful if the students tutor is there

Must have at least some facts before you debate

Always remember the cosmetics argument. The high street store Lush still advertises that they are against animal testing. Give clear facts about UK law on this and other banded chemical groups such as household products.

Always ask the audience what they know already

Gage the audience’s view, perhaps get them to vote and then see if this is changed at the end of the session

This measuring of opinion could be done using a spectrum of opinion. E.g. “Can do anything if humans benefit” to “Animals must never suffer”. Do people move as a result of the debate?

Voting can be done with the use of an app called SOCRATIVE. It is free. You get people to download it. Set up a questionnaire ready for the debate and everyone votes on their phones.

Include researchers or YouTube movies of researchers

As an alternative you could always consider debating welfare rather than ethics.

Studying addiction in animals could be a good topic to consider

One idea is for the group to be split up. Each group has to defend the mission statement of a pre-selected set of organisations, companies and groups. They must defend the point of view as if it was their own, regardless of their person opinion.

A pass the parcel game with statements for and against animal testing in each layer could open up discussions in smaller groups.

If you are not experienced delivering debates it is always a very good idea to contact the local student’s union debating society. They will be able to help structure the debate and provide a lead for the session that it closer to the age of the students that we are.


UAR website and train people in giving talks about Animals in research

Agenda do teach the teacher and tutors some

RSPCA train that teachers

Debate education is on the RSPCA website


KS1 (under 7 years old) Direct “Animals in Research” education is not suitable for this age group. We all ruled it out as a possibility. Farm, pet or zoo animal welfare may be a good discussion point.

Zebrafish outreach works very well for this age group. Craft and fluorescent or light microscopy work very well. Basic biology of fish, relate to human health.

KS2 (under 11 years old) A basic message is possible with this age group. A review of their knowledge is helpful but remember they have very mixed abilities.

More medically related workshops can work. Zebrafish are once again a good tool to develop knowledge.

This age group need to be a little bit more aware and can be given messages such as

Medicine is very important to keep you and your family healthy. Zebrafish and other model organisms are used to help develop new medicines.

You must take care of yourself and take your medicine. Look after nature, pets, support animals but do not worry about the medicine that you need.

Social media becomes a very important source of information for this age group.

What Google says counts, remember how right it is about the greatest! What images are out there? Is it clear the images are from the UK and are they current?

False news could be a problem.

KS3 (under 14 years old) and KS4 (under 16 years old)

Sessions could now include small fury animals. Could start to show normal behaviour, husbandry and welfare issues. Limit the message and explain that suffering is not allowed. Ethics can be introduced.

Wendy from Understanding Animal Research said that they thought that it was best to spend any funds on GCSE level stages. It would be good to work on this sector more and it is often a good idea to get technicians to go out into schools.

By targeting this group you can encourage a career in animal care.

Higher education

This is the group of students that will have specialised and should receive this education if they are doing certain courses. Currently tutors are not well versed in delivering this information and the subject is not compulsory even for students studying high levels of Animal Care and Management.

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