A leading education expert has suggested schools should have a dog – or another sort of pet – as a means of decreasing stress and improving well-being.
Speaking at the University of Buckingham’s Ultimate Wellbeing in Education Conference, university vice chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon emphasized how a classroom pet can reduce anxiety among young people.
Held at Westminster Abbey, this conference looked at the ways in which stresses and anxieties affecting young people can be effectively addressed.
The conference touched on issues concerning social media and self-esteem, with teenagers feeling pressured by the impossibly ‘perfect lives’ they see online.
As reported by the BBC, Sir Anthony said:
The quickest and biggest hit that we can make to improve mental health in our schools and to make them feel safe for children, is to have at least one dog in every single school in the country,
Because children can relate to animals when they are hurt and anxious and sad in a way that they can’t always with human beings.
It will be a powerfully cost-effective way of helping children feel more secure at schools.
It’s very easy to do, it’s very cost-effective, the evidence is very clear that it works, and every single school – primary, secondary, special – should have dogs.
It’s hard to think of an easier, quicker benefit.
"Children love reading to Doug. He doesn’t correct them, and he most certainly never interrupts.”@thefriendmag spoke to Cate Archer about volunteering on the PAT Read2Dogs scheme with @DougPugTherapy #Read2Dogs #PATdogshttps://t.co/qLi6pMl0yF pic.twitter.com/l6JfSrKJYy
— Pets As Therapy (@PetsAsTherapyUK) March 21, 2019
The UK has seen a growing number of ‘well-being dogs’ in schools, who bring a comforting and helpful presence to what can often be a highly pressurised environment.
Noted benefits of a school well-being dog have included increased levels in concentration and a boost in overall happiness among pupils.
We're very excited to introduce our newest member of the Primary team… Popsy! She will be working with our primary pupils as part of the @PetsAsTherapyUK charity. Welcome to Popsy! #Wellbeing #therapy #exciting #charitytuesday 🤗😊🐕 pic.twitter.com/iQTbyyUdVL
— Blanche Nevile School for Deaf Children (@BlancheNevile) March 19, 2019
Sir Anthony’s thoughts were echoed by education secretary Damian Hinds, who spoke of his own experiences of meeting well-being dogs during visits to schools.
Mr Hinds said:
This is one of those things that wasn’t around when I was at school. I hadn’t really realised the incidence of it until I was education secretary.
First I was a bit surprised, but actually it’s a great thing. For the kids, it can be really uplifting, particularly those that have different ways of expressing themselves and coming out of themselves, and the dog or the pets can really help.
Although there are currently no plans to implement a ‘central dog policy’, it is still cheering to see this impaw-tant issue being given some serious thought.
— GC Montessori (@Montessori_GC) March 19, 2019
How much would you have loved a well-being dog to cuddle and be best buds with when you were at school?
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year.
Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.