10th February 2020 — It is the first time in the School’s 463-year history that three new recruits haven’t had to worry about an ‘oversized’ new school uniform, a slightly too short start-of-term haircut and have immediately made themselves comfortable on the floor of the Headmaster’s Study!
George, a one-year-old Cavapoochon; Henry, a three-year-old Labrador, and five-year old English Bulldog, Harry, are Brentwood’s first wellbeing dogs and within minutes of passing through the School gates these new starters had already made hundreds and hundreds of new friends.
Student and staff wellbeing is a top priority at the Ingrave Road school and this new pooch programme is part of a comprehensive timetable of wellbeing events, workshops, talks and classes which will ensure Brentwood continues to lead the field.
Behind the scenes, George, Henry and Harry have been acclimatising to school life and 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."
He continued: "This initiative was introduced by a group of Lower Sixth students who felt that pupil wellbeing would be augmented by having a wellbeing dog in our midst. The proposal was then ratified by the Health and Safety Committee and we have researched, risk-assessed, discussed the practicalities and agreed that a limited number of staff-owned dogs will be allowed onto the School site – all with the appropriate temperament and with experience of children."
Needless to say children who do not want to have contact with the dogs, perhaps due to allergies, would not do so and all those who want to spend time with their new school chums will be supervised at all times.
Mr 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."