Furry friends help Wayland Academy students relax before GCSEs

A Pets As Therapy Club visits Year 11 students at Wayland Academy in Watton before their GCSE exams.

A Pets As Therapy Club visits Year 11 students at Wayland Academy in Watton before their GCSE exams. L-R Year 11 student Jessica Steward, owner and PAT volunteer Nina Nannar, Biscuit the dog and Year 11 student Ella Smy. - Credit: Archant

Students had a welcome break from revision before the start of their GCSE exams after their school hosted a Pets As Therapy (PAT) Club.

A Pets As Therapy Club visits Year 11 students at Wayland Academy in Watton before their GCSE exams.

A Pets As Therapy Club visits Year 11 students at Wayland Academy in Watton before their GCSE exams. L-R Owner and volunteer Peter, Islay the dog and Year 11 student Elise Green - Credit: Archant

Wayland Academy welcomed 10 dogs and their owners on Friday to help Year 11 pupils relax before the start of their exams this week.

It was the first PAT Club to be run in a Norfolk school, and allowed students to book a 10-minute slot to interact with the dog of their choice in the academy's Impact Centre.

It is scientifically proven that interaction with a gentle and friendly pet has significant benefits for physical and mental health.

The event also provided an opportunity for students in the Special Educational Needs department to boost their confidence by helping to run the event.


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Speaking after the session, student Ella Smy, 16, said: 'I'm feeling a little nervous about the exams but spending time with the dogs has released a lot of stress. It has definitely worked as being able to chill out with the dogs calms me down and relaxes me quite a lot.'

Fifteen year old student Elise Green, 15, spent time with therapy dog Islay.

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Elise said: 'I'm not too nervous about the exams as I've been doing a lot of revision so hopefully that will pay off but this has been a good break from revision.'

Debbie Blundell, assistant to the SEND co-ordinator at Wayland Academy, said: 'It has been proven that stroking a dog has a calming effect on people and helps to lower stress levels and blood pressure.

'By putting something practical in place it shows the students that we understand how stressful this time can be and we can really see how much they have appreciated the opportunity.

'We would like to thank all of the Pets As Therapy volunteers and their dogs for visiting the academy.'

Carole Adam, volunteer co-ordinator and dog assessor for Pets As Therapy, said: 'Research has shown that events such as this reduces stress and promotes a feeling of wellbeing and we think that today's PAT Club has had that effect on these students.

'It has been really nice to see the students interacting with the dogs and it looks as though everyone has really enjoyed themselves, including the dogs!'

For more information about PAT, contact Carole Adam on 01603 664 988.

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