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Brentwood School pupils given paws for thought

PUBLISHED: 15:34 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:34 31 January 2020

Henry the three-year-old labrador getting to know his classmates. Picture: Brentwood School

Henry the three-year-old labrador getting to know his classmates. Picture: Brentwood School

Brentwood School

Brentwood School welcomes its three newest recruits, who rather than the classroom, would rather make themselves comfortable on the headmaster’s floor.

George the cavapoochoon. Picture: Brentwood School.George the cavapoochoon. Picture: Brentwood School.

The three new students are George, a one-year-old Cavapoochon, Henry, a three-year-old Labrador, and five-year-old English bulldog Harry, who are the school's first wellbeing dogs.

A group of lower sixth students felt that pupil wellbeing would be improved by having a dog or two on the school grounds.

After being ratified by the Health and Safety Committee, it was agreed a limited number of staff-owned dogs with experience with children and appropriate temperaments would be allowed.

The communications manager of the school said that children who do not want to have contact with the dogs, perhaps due to allergies, of course may stay clear of them and supervision will be provided at all times while playing with their new furry friends.

The new pooch programme is part of a comprehensive timetable of wellbeing events, workshops, talks and classes. And behind the scenes, George, Henry and Harry have been acclimatising to school life.

Strict rules have been put in place to ensure their safety and happiness, with pupils being urged to "treat the wellbeing dogs the way they would like to be treated".

Headmaster Michael Bond, who will be sharing his study with George every Tuesday, said he was delighted to launch the initiative: "There is increasing research into the beneficial effects of working with animals from the perspective of wellbeing and positive mental health.

"Many schools, hospitals and retirement homes have, for some time now, used wellbeing dogs to help children, patients and the elderly relax and de-stress. Wellbeing dogs can be used as a source of comfort and relaxation for pupils who need a little bit of breathing space away from the usual school backdrop.

James Brown, non-executive director at Mental Health First Aid England, said: "This is an excellent initiative which involves a wellbeing approach fully endorsed by MHFA. Congratulations to all involved".

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