Exams can be a time of intense stress and anxiety and it is important that we support our pupils and help them to be mentally healthy during this period. ‘Paws Against Stress’ is a scheme that was developed by the University of Edinburgh’s Student Counselling Service back in 2013 and adopted by many Universities across the country since. It pairs a student with a dog for a 20 minute session in a quiet space, during which they can relax, stroke and play with the dog to help alleviate stress and feel calmer.
Over two days in May we had four dogs in to visit Hazlehead Academy who spent time with over thirty of our senior pupils (and some staff!) during their study leave. Bruno the German Shepherd, Blue the Labradoodle, Maisie the Westie and Ruby the Australian Shepherd were very popular and pupils signed up to a timetable of sessions in the weeks leading up to their visit.
Twenty minutes chilling out with a friendly, cuddly, furry companion relaxed the pupils and gave them a much needed break from the pressure of studying. Everyone was delighted with the opportunity and there were some very happy faces returning to their desks!
The sessions were a great success with everyone commenting on how much better they felt afterwards. We intend for this to become an annual event during study leave from now on.