Henry Hepburn

How animals aid a trauma-informed approach to education

It is not unusual for animals to be brought in for school visits these days – given our growing appreciation of pets’ ability to keep children calm. But how many schools put animals at the very heart of their curriculum? Henry Hepburn visits a Renfrewshire special school where vulnerable pupils interact with dogs, tortoises and ponies throughout the school day, helping them to build relationships and control their emotions

How animals can support a trauma-informed approach to education

Andrew* sits in the corner of a room in a school where, it’s fairly safe to assume, animals play in bigger role in the curriculum than anywhere else in Scotland.

The 10-year-old leans forward as two little dogs – a Jack Russell named Buzz and a Jackahuahua called Holly – nuzzle into him, ignoring the several adults in the room. After a few moments, he gently shoos them away and turns to Monster, the tortoise in the tank on the table beside him, and carefully lifts him on to the floor.

Andrew’s movements are deft, his affection and sense of responsibility clear, and, in his softly spoken ...

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