The new national curriculum was introduced in September 2014 and focuses on the essential knowledge that must be taught, allowing teachers to take greater control over the wider curriculum in schools and how it is taught. The national curriculum is compulsory in maintained schools, and academies and free schools can use it as a benchmark. As part of the science national curriculum primary pupils will be taught about the basic needs of animals for survival including appropriate habitat, food, water and air. Schools should also teach pupils how to take care of animals taken from their local environment and the need to return them safely after study.
Schools have the freedom to teach topics such as animal welfare as part of subjects such as Personal, Social, Health and Economic education.