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RCVS encourages more diverse range of applicants to apply for Fellowship

RCVS encourages more diverse range of applicants to apply for Fellowship

Deadline for Fellowship applications is 15 February

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is urging a more diverse range of veterinary surgeons to apply for its 2021 round of Fellowships, ahead of the February deadline.

Prospective fellows have until 5.00pm on Monday 15 February 2021 to submit an application for with supporting evidence on their route to entry. This can be either: Meritorious Contribution to Clinical Practice, to Knowledge or to the Profession.

Since the Fellowship's relaunch in 2016, less than one-third of successful applicants have been women, so the Fellowship Board is particularly invested in seeing more women apply to join the learned society.

Dr Mary Fraser FRCVS, an academic based at the University of Stirling and the RCVS Fellowship Board Member for Projects and Engagement, explains: “We have seen a remarkable uptick in the number of people joining the Fellowship – including women – over the past few years since it was re-developed and re-launched.

“However, there is still quite a stark imbalance between men and women, both in terms of the current composition of the Fellowship and those who are currently applying.

She went on the reassure female veterinary surgeons that they were eligible to apply if they have played a leadership role within the professions, advanced the public understanding of veterinary work or helped to advance knowledge in a particular subject area by publishing research and papers.

RCVS president Dr Mandisa Greene added: “It is important this learned body encourages women, and others from backgrounds that may currently be under-represented, to apply so it can begin to reflect more evenly the demographics within our profession and society at large.”

A full list of requirements, along with an application form and supporting documents is available at: www.rcvs.org.uk/fellowship

Potential applicants are welcome to contact fellowship@rcvs.org.uk for an informal chat and guidance.

FECAVA and WSAVA share principles for veterinary collegiality

FECAVA and WSAVA share principles for veterinary collegiality

New guidance aims to bring about positive change in the workplace.

New guidelines outlining how veterinary professionals should conduct themselves among their peers have been published by the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

Launched on Blue Monday (18 January) - dubbed the most depressing day of the year - the guidance outlines ten principles of professional collegiality that aim to encourage a more productive and welcoming work environment. 

The move follows discussions at the WSAVA World Congress in July 2019, during which veterinary leaders from across the globe raised concern about the stress caused by miscommunication and collegiality within veterinary teams. Leaders also highlighted the additional pressure that this was putting on members of a profession already challenged by well-being and mental health issues.

FECAVA senior vice president Dr Wolfgang Dohne commented: “Poor collegiality and communication add to stress and frustration among veterinary professionals and hold back veterinary teams. 

"Mutual respect, courtesy and support of especially junior team members, together with good communication, results not only in a better working environment but also in better clinical outcomes. It improves animal welfare and encourages the concept of life-long learning. These goals are at the heart of FECAVA and its national member organizations and we are proud to be co-signatories of this document.'”

WSAVA past president Dr Shane Ryan added: “The mental and emotional well-being of the entire veterinary team and, consequently, our ability to ensure the health and welfare of our animal patients, can only be enhanced by practising in a harmonious, collegial environment.

"The principles outlined in the document allow for courteous and respectful interaction with our fellow veterinarians to encourage a more productive and welcoming workplace. Strengthening collegiality is an important element of the WSAVA's strategy to advocate for the profession globally to bring about positive change.”

An accompanying infographic for practical use in veterinary clinics will be unveiled at the WSAVA/FECAVA Online Congress in March 2021.

Survey seeks experiences of racism in the profession

Survey seeks experiences of racism in the profession

Findings will inform interventions to promote diversity and wellbeing.

Researchers have launched a landmark survey to investigate experiences of racism in the veterinary profession and the impact these experiences have on the mental wellbeing of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people.

Led by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society (BVEDS), the 'Race Together' survey will examine overt and 'everyday racism' in the sector. 

All BAME people working or studying in the UK veterinary sector are invited to share their experiences, including people in any clinical, non-clinical or support role in veterinary organisations, institutions, industry or practices.

Principal investigators, Dr Victoria Crossley (RVC) and Navaratnam Partheeban (BVEDS), said: “This anonymous survey is open to all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people working or studying in the veterinary sector, not only vets and veterinary nurses, and we would like to encourage people to take part and tell us about their experiences of racism, however ‘major or minor’.

“We hope that our project will increase awareness and understanding of the issues that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people experience while working or studying in the UK veterinary profession, and our findings will be used to inform the design of evidence-based interventions to promote diversity and wellbeing, and the monitoring of their effectiveness.”

Up to now, there has been little formal research investigating the impact of racism on the mental health of veterinary professionals. This is despite ongoing concerns regarding poor mental health in the sector and previous studies showing that everyday racism can negatively impact mental health. 

Funded by the RCVS Minds Matters Initiative Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant, the project will explore systemic, commonplace interactions with people and services or systems that, intentionally or unintentionally, leave individuals feeling racially-judged in a covert or deniable way. 

Lisa Quigley, RCVS Mind Matters Manager, commented: “We are very glad to be able to support this important project, the first of its kind to look at the mental health impact of racism and discrimination in the veterinary professions.

“Diversity, equality and inclusion is a key strategic priority for the RCVS and hopefully this study will help identify some of the barriers and negative experiences that impact Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic veterinary professionals and develop the appropriate interventions both to tackle discrimination and improve mental health outcomes.”

The survey will remain open until 31 March 2021 and can be found here

Voting now open for BVA regional representatives

Voting now open for BVA regional representatives

Members urged to elect a 'strong voice for vets in their region'

Voting has now opened to elect four new regional representatives who will represent the views of veterinary professionals in their area to the BVA Council.

According to BVA, regional representatives are 'integral' to the activities of the council, helping to assess veterinary policy and informing the actions of BVA's Policy Committee. Regional representatives serve on BVA Council for a three-year term.

The nominees for each region are:

  • South east: Eleanor Duffy, Paul Horwood, Fieke Molenaar and Christina Ratcliffe
  • East of England: Louise Rayment-Dyble and Johanna Sharples
  • North west: Ben Dustan, Kate Higgins, Neil Howie and Vanessa Whitfield
  • Scotland: Emma Callaghan, Matthew Erskine, Bobby Kirby, and James Wallace.

James Russell, BVA president said: “With an increasingly complex veterinary landscape and a year marked by huge challenges to the profession, it is more important than ever that our members have robust representation at the highest level within BVA.

“I’d encourage everyone who’s eligible to vote to take this opportunity to elect a candidate who can be a strong voice for vets in their region.”

BVA members will in the four regions will receive voting instructions via email from UK Engage, which is administering the election on behalf of BVA.

Voting closes at 5.00pm on 15 February. Candidate biographies and voting instructions can be viewed on the BVA website.

RVC earns re-accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology

RVC earns re-accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology

Panel highlights good practice in three Bachelor of Bioscience (Honours) degree programmes. 

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has announced the formal re-accreditation of three of its Bioscience degree pathways with the Royal Society of Biology (RSB).

Led by world-renowned experts in their field, the three courses include Biological Sciences; Bioveterinary Sciences, Animal Biology, Behaviour, Welfare and Ethics, and a new RVC degree pathway - Biological Sciences (Wildlife Health Sciences).

Accreditation is a review process whereby an external body acknowledges that a degree programme meets a defined set of criteria. For this review, the RSB Accreditation Panel highlighted good practice in several areas, including the use of projects in each year of the programmes, the experience that students gain in oral communication and the use of interactive workshops.

Dr Charlotte Lawson, an associate professor in comparative biomedical sciences at the RVC, commented: “Accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology continues to be the gold standard for biosciences programmes in the UK and internationally and demonstrates that our programmes at the RVC provide graduates with the necessary knowledge and skills to be at the forefront of the next generation of scientists.”


The accreditation includes one year of free membership to the RSB in the students' final year of study. 

BVA announces annual photography competition

BVA announces annual photography competition

Categories include 'a vet's life in lockdown' and 'happy pets that make us smile'.

The BVA has launched its annual photography competition, with a £250 John Lewis voucher for the winners and a chance for the images to go on display at BVA Live.

BVA's Veterinary Photographer of the Year Award is split into three categories, focussing on images that capture the human-animal bond in everyday veterinary work, as well as companion animal and wildlife photography. 

Last year's winners include Laura Caballero Pastor, who scooped first place in the 'One Veterinary Community' category with her shot of Nepalese locals vaccinating a street dog against rabies. Jennifer Dykes won the ‘All creatures great and small’ category with her picturesque image of a misty UK mountainside and flock of sheep.

No expensive photography equipment is required as submissions for each category can be shot on a mobile phone or a high-spec camera. The three categories are:
  • a vet’s life in lockdown - Images that reflect the extraordinary circumstances we have all been thrust into during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
  • all creatures great and small - An opportunity to look at the vast diversity of the animal kingdom: domestic, agricultural and all aspects of wildlife.
  • happy pets that make us smile - Reflecting the joy of a happy, contented animal. 
BVA President, James Russell said: “The BVA Veterinary Photographer of the Year Award is something that we all look forward to, and the incredible array of eye-catching photos taken by people from across the veterinary community never ceases to impress me.

“In view of the current circumstances, we have introduced a new category: ‘A vet’s life in lockdown’, which we hope will produce some interesting documentation of how the profession has fared against a very challenging backdrop, like no other. 

“Now in its fifth year, the competition always attracts high quality, diverse and often poignant imagery. I am very excited to be part of the judging panel and to have the opportunity to see the amazing images submitted this year.

“Whether you’re a semi-professional photographer or a casual snapper, we encourage you to enter and showcase your daily interactions with animals either at work or play, or your skill at capturing wildlife at its most beautiful, even if it is in your back garden, or on the windowsill.”

The competition is open to all current BVA members and will be judged by BVA officers among others. Entries will close on 8 March 2021 with the winners announced in April. 

Because of the current national lockdowns, BVA is reminding entrants not to breach any guidelines just to get ‘the perfect shot’. Photos that are taken around the home, garden and local area are encouraged. Photographs from the past will also be accepted.

Applications open for RCVS Fellowship Panels

Applications open for RCVS Fellowship Panels

Candidates sought for Credentials Panels and Scientific Advisory Panel

The Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is currently seeking members of the veterinary profession to apply to join it's Fellowship Credentials Panels and it's Scientific Advisory Panel.

The Fellowship Credentials Panels review and assess applications to become a fellow under the three routes to entry: Meritorious Contributions to Clinical Practice, Knowledge or the Profession.

The RCVS is seeking experienced veterinary surgeons for each of these three routes to entry to help improve the College’s capability to make more of the collective knowledge and experience of it's members.

More information on the role and an application form are available on the RCVS website. Applications must be submitted to senior leadership officer Ceri Chick on c.chick@rcvs.org.uk before 5.00pm on Monday 1 February.

The Fellowship is also looking for veterinary surgeons to join it's Scientific Advisory Panel, which is responsible for reviewing evidence used to inform guidance on scientific issues relevant to the profession.

Those interested in joining the Scientific Advisory Panel must be FRCVS, and have until 5 February to submit an application with a short description of their area of expertise and what they can bring to the role.

Professor John Innes, chair of the RCVS Fellowship Board, said: “The work to transform the RCVS Fellowship into a thriving learned society of veterinary science that promotes scientific excellence, furthers professional skills and expertise, and can talk to wider society about the importance of veterinary science is continuing apace, and these two bodies play a vital role in this endeavour.”

Boehringer announces collaboration with PetMedix

Boehringer announces collaboration with PetMedix

Partnership will see the development of companion animal antibody therapeutics.

Boehringer Ingelheim has announced a multi-year partnership with PetMedix - a Cambridge-based biopharmaceutical firm - to develop novel and transformative companion animal antibody therapeutics.

The collaboration will see PetMedix undertake discovery activities against a number of key targets and Boehringer Ingelheim will work to develop and bring these therapies to market. The terms of the partnership have not been disclosed. 

PetMedix’s breakthrough approach to therapeutic antibodies has resulted in a number of successful, novel therapies for humans. It is also the only company in the world that has been able to bring this approach to veterinary medicine.

Through its its Ky9™ platform, PetMedix can rapidly and efficiently generate fully canine therapeutic antibodies. This approach saves time and money in drug development, and reduces the risk of certain key adverse events relative to other antibody technologies.

Dr Tom Weaver, CEO of PetMedix, said: “We are excited to be working with Boehringer Ingelheim on this project as we feel we bring complementary experience and expertise to this partnership. PetMedix has developed the leading pet antibody discovery engine, and it will be through Boehringer Ingelheim’s global scale and industry leadership that these novel therapies will best be able to succeed and ultimately benefit the animals.”

James Allan, global head of transaction, business development & licensing, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, added: “Boehringer Ingelheim is pleased to be working with PetMedix on this cutting edge technology as a means to bring innovative new therapies to improve the health of animals globally. PetMedix has a unique expertise and its focus on innovation aligns well with our own”.

RVC's HR Excellence in Research Award renewed

RVC's HR Excellence in Research Award renewed

College retains Award for eighth year running

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has announced that it's HR Excellence in Research Award has once again been renewed following it's eight-year external review.

This award shows the College's commitment to supporting the careers of researchers. It has also successfully implemented the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers – an agreement which aims to improve the employment and support for researchers and research careers in UK higher education.

The RVC submitted a report to Vitae – the awarding body – providing an internal gap analysis of how it's existing policies and practices reflect those outlined in the Concordat. The College also presented it's action plan outlining it's plans or the future.

Vice principal of Research and Innovation at the RVC Professor Jonathan Elliott credited the College's success to it's close collaboration with the Research Association when developing it's long-term strategies and objectives.

He said: “Researchers form a fundamental part of the RVC and I am gratified that our hard work and commitment to their career development has again been recognised by Vitae with the HR Excellence in Research Award.

“We pride ourselves as being an internationally competitive research-led institution and I am confident that the successful integration of the Concordat’s principles will help us to continue to attract and retain some of the most innovative and talented researchers in veterinary and biological science.”

BSAVA reveals programme for virtual congress

BSAVA reveals programme for virtual congress

Event promises more than 100 speakers and dedicated exhibitor stream.

The full programme for BSAVA's 2021 virtual congress is now live, including more than 130 CPD hours, UK and international speakers and an extensive range of practical resources.

Taking place 25 to 27 March, the event promises more than 100 speakers and a new format that blends clinical, practical and interactive content across a range of topics. There will also be shorter sessions and the introduction of new two-speaker sessions on everyday topics focussing on primary care practice.

BSAVA president Professor Ian Ramsey said: “Following months of meticulous planning we are thrilled that the programme is now live. The sheer range and high quality of our speakers and content, together with our new, more dynamic format takes webinar learning to a new level.”

Described as a 'who's who' of the veterinary world, the list of speakers includes Ernie Ward from the USA, who will be speaking about recruitment and retention, and Holger Volk from Germany, who will present on aspects of neurology on a shoestring.

The list of UK speakers includes Rebecca Geddes on kidney medicine and nursing, Amy Newfield on IV access techniques, and Rob White on brachycephalic surgery and acute abdomen surgical techniques.

Four simultaneous live streams will deliver more than 80 live sessions covering 24 module topics, together with a library of 100 on-demand webinars and other resources. Many of the modules have relevant presentations woven in to make them suitable for the whole practice team.

There will also be a dedicated exhibitor stream every day. The live and on-demand content will be available to delegates on the platform for 60 days, and then via the BSAVA Library.

Professor Ramsey continued: “Delegates will be able to develop their skills and knowledge on topics they see regularly in practice. To make things even easier we will be providing practical resources such as client handouts for delegates to take back to their clinics.

“This, coupled with many speakers sharing their own notes and practical resources means less note-taking and a quicker and easier way for delegates to share what they have learnt with their colleagues.” 

RCVS extends Legislative Reform Consultation deadline

RCVS extends Legislative Reform Consultation deadline

Consultation seeks feedback on changes to how the professions are governed.

The RCVS has extended its landmark consultation on legislative and disciplinary reforms until April 2021 to give members of the profession and the public more time to respond.

In a press release, the RCVS said the decision had been made in light of the difficult circumstances of the pandemic and the current national lockdown restrictions. The 12-week consultation had been due to close on the 27 January. 

Launched in November 2020, the Legislative Reform Consultation seeks feedback on changes to how the professions are governed and regulated. The changes, set out in the Legislation Working Party report (LWP), were developed over three years in response to concerns that current legislation is no longer fit-for-purpose. The changes fall under the following headings:

  • embracing the vet-led team
  • enhancing the role of the veterinary nurse
  • assuring practice regulation
  • introducing a modern 'Fitness to Practise' regime
  • modernising RCVS registration.

Ben Myring, RCVS policy & public affairs manager, commented: “Thank you to the hundreds of people who have engaged with the consultation thus far. It is a big and detailed report and so we appreciate those who have taken the time to look through it, read the recommendations, and give their views on what has been proposed so far. 

“With the extended period of time now available, I would urge members of the profession and the public who are interested in the governance of the veterinary professions to read the report to gain an understanding of the recommendations and their rationale.”

The consultation is also seeking views from veterinary professionals and the public on three specific proposals to reform the disciplinary system. These include:

  • a change to the standard of proof used in deciding whether or not the facts of a case are proven from the current criminal standard (‘beyond all reasonable doubt’) to the civil standard (‘on the balance of probabilities’)
  • the introduction of a ‘Charter Case Protocol,’ under which cases that meet the threshold for a full Disciplinary Committee hearing, but which might be likely to attract a low sanction, may be concluded without a public hearing
  • to end the current system of initial review of complaints via a Case Examiners Group with the more complex of these cases then reviewed subsequently by the Preliminary Investigation Committee.

Mr Myring added: “If you have already made a start on your response, but not had time to finish and submit it, you should be able to pick up where you left off, without having to begin again, providing you use the same device.

“If anything strikes you as particularly noteworthy, or if you feel strongly about a particular recommendation, please bear in mind that you don’t have to give a response on every aspect of the Report but can choose to comment on those areas that most interest you.”

The consultation, which can be found at rcvs.org.uk/legislativereform, will remain open until Friday, 23 April 2021. 

 

BVA renews call to 'respect your vet' during lockdowns

BVA renews call to 'respect your vet' during lockdowns

“Veterinary care is still available but it’s not business as usual” - James Russell. 

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has renewed its call to the public to respect their veterinary teams during the national COVID-19 lockdowns.

Across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, veterinary practices are being urged to only carry out work that is essential for animal health and welfare. This requirement means that some practices may need to postpone routine work and cancel appointments, so long as it is safe. 

In light of the recent lockdowns, BVA is once again calling on animal owners to respect the clinical judgement of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses when deciding whether their animals need a face-to-face examination. Clients who do visit their vet must abide by the social distancing and biosecurity measures that have been put in place, the organisation said.

BVA president James Russell commented: “This is a serious public health crisis and it’s vital that we all play a role in stopping the spread of Covid. Veterinary care is still available but it’s not business as usual. Vets are being asked to restrict the range of services they can provide during these new lockdown periods to support the strong ‘stay at home’ message.

“Vets and nurses may need to cancel some routine appointments or they may need to deliver services remotely, for example, phone or video consultations. Some practices may ask you to stay outside the building. This is to keep you and the veterinary team safe.”

“During the first lockdown we heard worrying reports of clients being abusive to veterinary teams when new measures were put in place. This behaviour cannot be tolerated. I’m incredibly proud of our veterinary teams across the UK, who have been working under difficult circumstances throughout the pandemic. 

“Our message to animal owners is please respect your vet, listen to their clinical judgement, and follow the Covid-safe measures they put in place.

Final chance to nominate for Petplan Veterinary Awards

Final chance to nominate for Petplan Veterinary Awards

Vets urged to nominate colleagues before 18 January

Petplan is urging veterinary professionals to submit their nominations for the 2021 Petplan Veterinary Awards as the deadline draws nearer.

The awards aim to recognise the outstanding work of the country's veterinary staff; celebrating those individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty.

The deadline to nominate a colleague or practice is 18 January.

Last year more than 37,000 entries were submitted by pet owners and veterinary staff in five award categories. These categories include:

  • Practice of the Year
  • Vet of the Year
  • Vet Nurse of the Year
  • Practice Manager of the Year
  • Practice Support Staff of the Year.

James Barnes, head of sales and partnerships at Petplan, said: “Now more than ever it’s important to recognise the lengths the veterinary community goes to in looking after our pets.

“Every year we’re astounded by the quality and quantity of nominations which are a real testament to the hard work of all of those involved at practices who care for animals and clients all year round.

“The awards are a perfect opportunity for you to showcase your practice and your colleagues. If you haven’t already I’d invite you to nominate someone today!”

To nominate a colleague or your practice please visit the Petplan website. The winners will be announced later in the year.

Gene discovery could curb malaria spread

Gene discovery could curb malaria spread

'Femaleless' gene can be manipulated to prevent female mosquitoes from developing.

Scientists at The Pirbright Institute have discovered a new gene that determines the sex of malaria mosquitoes.

Only the female mosquito bites people and animals to feed on blood and spread disease.
Researchers say the new gene, named femaleless, can be manipulated to prevent female mosquitoes from developing - and could therefore provide a new means for the genetic control of mosquito populations. 

The study was led by scientists from the Vector Molecular Biology Group and published in Current Biology

In the study, researchers first identified femaleless in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, a primary malaria carrier in Africa. Their experiments revealed that by decreasing the gene expression in mosquito eggs, females develop a more male-like appearance and cannot mate or feed on blood. 

The scientists also discovered that femaleless is exclusive to mosquito species belonging to the genus Anopheles, which is solely responsible for transmitting human malaria. The gene was detected in all Anopheles species studied, and its genetic sequence proved to be similar in different species. 

Dr Jaroslaw Krzywinski, head of the Vector Molecular Biology Group at Pirbright, explains: “We first investigated femaleless because we suspected it would have a role in sex determination, but it was unexpected that knockdown of the gene’s expression would lead to female lethality. 

“This gene is highly conserved in sequence and function in various Anopheles species and, as such, provides an excellent universal target to eliminate females of major malaria vector species, enabling the control of their populations. We hope that this discovery could help us to tackle one of the most devastating insect-borne diseases in the world.”

According to the World Health Organisation, there were an estimated 229 million clinical cases of malaria in 2019 and more than 400,000 deaths globally. Children under five are the most vulnerable group affected by the disease, accounting for 67 per cent of all malaria deaths in 2019. 

Paws acquires Ocado's Fetch pet brand

Paws acquires Ocado's Fetch pet brand

Online firm's customer base will grow to 500,000.

Online cat and dog wellbeing firm Paws Holdings Ltd (Paws) has acquired the online pet food store, fetch.co.uk (Fetch) owned by Ocado Retail.

Paws, which trades in the UK and Europe under the Pet-Supermarket.co.uk, PetMeds.co.uk and Medicanimal.com brands, said the acquisition forms part of its strategy to become 'the number one dog and cat wellbeing business'. 

The acquisition, of which the terms have not been disclosed, will see Paws' customer base grow to 500,000, with a combined pro forma turnover in excess of £55m.

Graham Coxell, chairman of Paws Holdings Ltd, commented: “Given the last year, it has become more obvious than ever the positive role that our pets play in supporting our wellbeing. 

“The UK in particular is known to be a nation of dog and cat lovers, and we know that our customers are looking for a friendly, well-informed online community that will allow them to offer the best nutrition, healthcare and advice they can find.”

Mel Smith, CEO of Ocado Retail Ltd said: “While today’s announcement marks the end of our involvement with Fetch, a part of Ocado since 2014, we are delighted it is joining the PAWS family. We believe they will be the best long-term owner of Fetch and are impressed by the scale of ambition at PAWS as it seeks to scale its business.”

Image (C) Paws Holdings Ltd.

Teaching toolkit receives animal research award

Teaching toolkit receives animal research award

Project supports scientific education through animal behaviour experiments

An animal behaviour toolkit developed at the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies has received an Openness Award from Understanding Animal Research.

The project was created by the School's Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre Public Engagement Team. It can be downloaded for free to use in classrooms of pupils aged nine to fourteen.

The toolkit is linked to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and provides a series of simple experiments involving earthworms along with a fact file and a guide for teachers and adults.

It encourages pupils to explore the scientific method by making discoveries through research and highlights the importance of studying animal behaviour by giving them hands-on experience of designing their own animal behaviour investigation.

It also includes an activity which prompts pupils to think about the use of animals in research as well as the principles of reducing, refining and replacing animals in scientific studies – or the 3Rs.

The toolkit has been used by more than 1,000 school pupils as part of the Great Science Share for Schools and a further 12,000 people from across the globe have accessed the free-to-download version.

When the COVID-19 pandemic left millions of children having to carry out school work at home, the Public Engagement team simplified the toolkit to make it accessible to families.

The adapted toolkit, called Wonder with Worms, has since been downloaded for use with more than 5,000 young people across the country.

Principal of the University of Edinburgh Professor Peter Mathieson said: “These awards recognise the commitment of staff and students across our University over a period of many years to make research involving animals transparent and better understood.”