Animal Care

Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms


In Animal Care at The Hayfield School students will take part in a range of practically guided tutorial sessions to ensure they fully understand the concepts and techniques involved in meeting the welfare needs of animals. Students will have the opportunity to work with animals in our bespoke area as well as to work with livestock at local farms and liaise with local pet stores to seek advice on animal welfare. Hopefully, this course will also include visits to local farms, pet stores, breeders and local zoos – providing students with life long memories of studying Animal Care.

The aim of Animal Care is to provide a coherent introduction to the Animal Care sector. By studying Animal Care, students will broaden their experience and understanding of the varied progression opportunities available to them.

Students studying this course will need to be determined and well motivated to complete the two pieces of rigorous coursework and to prepare for the final exam.

The Animal Care course requires applied learning that brings together expert knowledge and understanding with practical and technical skills. With our own Animal Care area on site, students have access to a wide range of mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates. Course delivery is through a combination of theory and hands-on practical work combined with links to outside companies such as the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Equine Dreams. This approach ensures that the course is accessible to all Hayfield students irrespective of ability.

Students are able to progress to a wide range of courses and ultimately to employment in the Animal Care sector. The content of the course provides a balance of breadth and depth, while retaining a degree of choice for individual students to tailor content relevant to their own interests and progression choices. As the Animal Care sector and employment is dynamic, content will remain current.

The staff’s commitment and enthusiasm for the subject ensures that high standards are set which fuel students’ aspirations through their own conduct, support of the Hayfield School values and the expectations of all students. Ultimately, students will enter the employment market and therefore the final role of the department and the course is to provide students with a real understanding of the employment options available to them in the future and the importance of developing employability skills.

Curriculum Intent

This course will give you the opportunity to develop knowledge and technical skills in a practical learning environment. You will also develop key skills, such as in communication (including verbal and analytical writing skills), research and project management (including providing an opportunity to demonstrate reflective practice by suggesting alternative approaches to a problem). 

Everyone taking this qualification will study three components, covering the following content areas: 

  • Component 1: Animal Handling. In this component, you will develop animal handling skills. You will also gain an understanding of the principles of animal behaviour, allowing you to catch, handle and release animals safely. 
  • Component 2: Animal Accommodation and Housing. In this component, you will develop your understanding of the accommodation and housing requirements of animals by carrying out the preparation, maintenance and cleaning out of animal accommodation. 
  • Component 3: Animal Health and Welfare. In this component you will cover aspects of animal health and welfare and will equip learners with a good understanding of the relationship between looking after the wellbeing of the animal and the effect this has on maintaining animal strength and vigour.

KS4 BTEC First Award

Why should I study this subject?

This Tech Award is a very hands-on, practically based, vocational course designed to give an introductory overview to some of the key principles, knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to the animal care sector. Any student who has a passion for animal care and is aware that caring for an animal of any species requires knowledge and dedication, will enjoy this subject.

What will I learn?

You will study animal health and develop safe animal handling skills, which is vital in order to effectively care for animals. Students will develop their knowledge as well as practical skills. The course will include regular handling and taking care of animals such as guinea pigs, chickens, hamsters, rabbits and reptiles.

How will I be assessed?

There are three units to complete overall:

Animal Health and Welfare (Externally assessed exam worth 40%): develop biological understanding, as well as how looking after animal well-being helps maintain their strength and vigour.

Animal Handling (Internally assessed practical worth 30%): develop handling skills and understand animal behavior.

Animal Housing and Accommodation (Internally assessed practical 30%): develop understanding of housing accommodation by preparing, checking and cleaning.

What skills will I develop?

Team working, self management, independent enquiry, reflection, creative thinking and being an effective participator. How to care for, clean and handle animals, as well as what factors to consider when choosing suitable animal housing. Also what laws apply to animal welfare.

What equipment will I need?

You will need suitable outdoor footwear (e.g. walking boots, wellingtons) and waterproof clothing for visits to animal care establishments like local farms, zoos and wildlife parks, as well as working with outdoor, onsite animals. There will be an expectation that you clean out animal housing and contribute financially towards the cost of trips, visits and guest speakers.

How will this subject develop my sense of Character and Culture?

Studying Animal Care will help students make informed choices when it comes to career decisions within this industry.

Animal Care will develop students’ understanding of ethical and environmental factors in relation to the animal care sector.

Where can this subject take me in the future?

Students studying this qualification may progress on to a BTEC National (Level 3) in Animal Management, or undertake further study as an apprentice in the animal care industry. It may lead to career pathways in the veterinary industry, pet care, retail or with other animal care providers such as the RSPCA or RSPB. The course also benefits anyone that currently keeps animals, is likely to be involved in farming or keep pets in the future.

In terms of careers, the animal care sector is developing rapidly from a low-grade, largely manual sector into a service industry meeting the broad demands of the animal-owning and interested public. In 2019 the Animal care industry was worth approximately £1 billion to the UK economy. This sector has 20,000 businesses, 78,000 employees and many volunteers. There are many different career paths and opportunities for those wishing to work in animal care, which range from working with small to large animals and with domesticated to exotic animals in sub-sector areas such as animal welfare, business, science and wildlife conservation.

Where can I find out more?

What other subjects would compliment my learning in this qualification?

The Curriculum Team

Mr C James
Teacher of Science, Teacher of Animal Care
Mrs H Linley
Director of Vocational and Creative Design

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