School children will be taught about the impact of dog attacks on livestock and the importance of keeping the family pet under control around farm animals thanks to a joint initiative between Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) and Farmers Guardian.
As part of its Take the Lead campaign to promote responsible dog ownership and cut the number of attacks, FG, in partnership with the National Sheep Association (NSA), has developed a package of educational materials which teachers will be able to use in the classroom.
Thanks to FACE’s Countryside Classroom initiative, more than 25,000 key stage one and two pupils in 750 schools will hear the Take the Lead message, with more schools across the UK expected to use the resources as part of their syllabus from September.
FACE chief executive Dan Corlett said: "We are very pleased to be part of the Take the Lead campaign.
“Worrying by dogs is a really important issue for farmers and we hope the campaign will lead to a reduction in avoidable harm to sheep; but for us it also presents a great opportunity to engage more school children in learning about and protecting the countryside.
“As a result, more children will get connected to nature, understand where their food comes from and become more confident, informed citizens," said Mr Corlett, adding a proposed merger between FACE and Linking Environment And Farming later this year would ’create even greater opportunities for educating and engaging the public’.
Schools will be provided with a range of materials including an interactive video which explains why livestock is important to UK food production and how farm animals can be protected from dog attacks.
Children will also be given ‘I always take the lead’ stickers, intended to help strike up conversations with their families when they return home.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker added: “Pester power is an extremely valuable tool so the classroom is the ideal place plant ideas around responsible dog ownership.
“Hopefully it will encourage children to relay the message about always keeping dogs on a lead around sheep to their parents and increase work to prevent this ongoing problem."
”Farmers Guardian news editor Olivia Midgley added: “Since we launched Take the Lead in 2014, farmers have been calling for better education among the public, so we are absolutely delighted we have been able to deliver on this.
"This is an important step in the fight to bring down these preventable attacks which blight our farming industry.”