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Pets As Therapy dogs help calm students’ nerves ahead of GCSE exams

Year 11 students from Wayland Academy Norfolk were given a break from revision on Friday 13th May when the academy hosted a Pets As Therapy (PAT) Club which saw 10 dogs and their volunteer owners help students to relax ahead of their upcoming GCSE exams.

As it is scientifically proven that interaction with a gentle and friendly pet has significant benefits to physical and mental health, the main aim of the event was to help calm students’ nerves ahead of their GCSE exams which start on Monday 16th May. The event was the first PAT Club to be run in a Norfolk school and allowed students to book a ten minute slot with the dog of their choice before settling down on a bean bag to interact with their new furry friend in the academy’s Impact Centre.

In addition to the benefits for the Year 11 students, the event also provided an opportunity for students in the Special Educational Needs department to boost their confidence by helping to run the event and ensure that everything ran smoothly on the day.

Speaking after the session, sixteen year old student Ella Smy said:
“My first exam is on Monday so I have been revising a lot. 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, who spent time with Islay the dog, said:
“Islay is the cutest and she is really soft. 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 Norfolk, 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!”

Pets As Therapy is keen to encourage more dog owners to become volunteers. For more information, please contact Carole Adam on 01603 664 988 or email