Requirements for schools

Scientific Procedures Premises Licence (Schools)

All Victorian schools must hold a Scientific Procedures Premises Licence (Schools) in order to use animals for teaching.

Government schools

Government schools do not need to apply for a Scientific Procedures Premises Licence (Schools). They are covered under the department's licence.

Government schools will need to complete the online VSAEC application form (available on the Forms and record keeping chapter) in order to apply.

Catholic and independent schools

Non-government (Catholic and independent) schools need to apply for a licence in order to use animals for teaching. The licence is free and must be renewed at a fixed interval.

Application forms and additional information is available from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) Scientific Procedures Premises LicenceExternal Link .

Applying to the Victorian Schools Animal Ethics Committee

Non-government schools may need to apply to the Victorian Schools Animal Ethics Committee (VSAEC) for activities involving live animals. Refer to: When is VSAEC approval requiredExternal Link .

To apply to the VSAEC, non-government schools must:

After confirmation the non-government school will be provided with account details to log in.

Permits to keep wildlife

Schools can keep some wildlife species for non-invasive classroom observation. Government and Catholic schools can download a general authorisation permit for some species. The permit must be signed by the principal of that school. Independent schools must contact Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). The permit is free. For more information please refer to: Wildlife in schoolsExternal Link .

VSAEC approval may also be required for the project or activity. Refer to: When is VSAEC approval requiredExternal Link .

Please note:

  • animals cannot be taken from the wild
  • it is illegal to collect frog spawn and tadpoles anywhere in Victoria
  • injured or orphaned wildlife should be delivered as quickly as possible to an approved wildlife carer.


or your local vet to advise you on your nearest carer.

Animal welfare requirements

When planning to use animals for any purpose in a school, teachers need to consider the ethical and welfare issues involved. Schools may refer to Victoria’s animal welfare codes of practiceExternal Link for information on the standards for keeping a range of species and animal related activities.

The first and most important question for teachers to consider is whether their proposal to use animals for teaching is justified. Using animals for educational purposes can only be justified when there are no alternative, non-animal methods that would achieve the same result.

If non-animal alternatives can be used to achieve the stated educational outcome, then animals should not be used. Teachers should also ensure that only the smallest number of animals are used and that the impact on animal welfare is minimised.

For animal use in teaching to be justified, the proposed use must meet the following requirements (known as the 3Rs):

  • Replacement: Where possible animals should be replaced by models, digital learning or other suitable methods.
  • Reduction: Use no more than the minimum number of animals. However, this should not be at the expense of greater suffering of individual animals.
  • Refinement: Activities must minimise handling, discomfort, distress or pain in animals.

Teachers are strongly encouraged to consider the welfare of all animals (including insects) when using them in teaching activities, even if they do not fall within the scope of animals requiring approval from VSAEC, and to take into account their sentience and ability to experience pain and distress.

Guidance on caring for and handling specific species

All teachers using animals in their teaching are expected to have a thorough knowledge of the husbandry and facilities required for the species in their care.

Victoria has an extensive set of animal welfare codes of practiceExternal Link . Many have legally binding provisions. Teachers should regard them as the primary source of advice and consult them before considering additional sources.

The following species notes include basic guidance for teachers and students on the care and handling of certain animal species.

It is recommended that teachers have some experience and understanding of the animals they plan to use.

These notes are designed to be used in conjunction with Victoria’s animal welfare codes of practice. In the case of conflicting advice, the Codes of Practice take precedence.

Rehoming requirements for animals used in teaching

Rehome plans must be considered from the start of the planning stage. At end of their use in teaching, animals should be re-homed with the focus on 'a home for life' if possible.

For further information, please see Animal Welfare Victoria’s rehoming guide (PDF)External Link .

Biosecurity in schools

Biosecurity focuses on minimising the adverse impacts of pests and diseases in the environment, and the community. Effective biosecurity is essential to the ongoing health of Victoria’s agricultural production, economy, and environment.

In schools, good biosecurity includes awareness, maintenance of good practices, and reporting of suspected plant and animal pests, and diseases. Schools are required to practise these biosecurity measures when working with plants and animals.


Awareness means being vigilant and knowing the signs of plant and animal pests, and diseases. To help protect Australia from the spread of plant and animal pests, and diseases, a range of education resources for primary and secondary schools can be accessed from the Australian Government’s biosecurity websiteExternal Link .

Maintain good practices

Maintaining good practices helps prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Effective practices built into everyday actions include good hand hygiene, cleaning tools and equipment with disinfectant, removing seeds and soils from shoes, purchasing goods from reliable sources, labelling and storing chemicals safely, and managing feed, water, and waste.


Schools are required to report signs or outbreaks of disease. If you notice signs or suspect an outbreak of disease in animals, or birds, notify Agriculture Victoria immediately on the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888 or contact your local veterinarian.

The hotline will connect you with local Agriculture Victoria Animal Health and Welfare staff who will provide you with further instructions.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's website provides information on animal pests and diseasesExternal Link .

Guidance chapter outlining requirements for obtaining a licence to use animals in teaching

Reviewed 11 October 2022

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