19th June 2019

Four-legged friend helps to ease exam stress

Students from Taunton School with Larry the Therapy Dog (pictured left to right: Freddie Salter-Green, Lottie Michaels, Eloise Taylor, Florence Salter-Green, Ben Chaffey)

Taunton School have been beating exam stress with the help of a very special chocolate Labrador named Larry.

Eight year-old Larry is a registered therapy dog and belongs to Head of Biology, Caro Wedgwood. Caro has been bringing her canine friend to school every Friday with the key purpose to relieve stress and anxiety for students. His visits have been especially welcome during the exam period.

Caro said: “We have had Larry since he was a puppy. Last year on my sabbatical I wanted to do lots of volunteering so signed him up to the charity ‘Pets as Therapy’ who assessed him, checking that he was suitable to be trusted around people.

“I have been volunteering in the children’s ward as Musgrove Park Hospital since January 2018 because he is so calm it is easy for children to trust him, form a bond, and sit quietly with him in otherwise stressful situations – plus he loves all the attention! He will often lie down with the kids and put his head on their lap and fall asleep whilst they stroke him.”

Larry’s visits to the Taunton School grounds and classrooms every Friday have become a real highlight of the week and students say that he puts a smile on their face for the rest of the day.

Taunton School takes a holistic approach to the wellbeing of students’ mental health and there are many systems in place across the whole school to ensure this important need is met. Last year, Taunton School was a finalist in the Tes Independent School Awards in the Student Wellbeing category.

Research into the effects of therapy dogs in schools shows a range of benefits including gains in student confidence, decrease in anxiety, improved motivation and enhanced relationships with peers and teachers.