Four-legged friends are helping to take the stress out of exams
STUDENTS at the King’s School welcomed some four-legged friends to school to help them unwind from their frantic revision timetable.
Vet John Yarwood, who has practised from Wright and Morten Veterinary Practice in Cumberland Street for 40 years, together with top local gun dog trainer Matthew Kerfoot and his son Cyrus, a King’s pupil, brought 10 working gun dogs to meet the school’s exam candidates.
John, a former King’s pupil, said: “Dogs do bring down stress levels. People who own dogs have fewer heart attacks and fewer stress related conditions and quite simply they get you out into the countryside.
“If I didn’t have my dogs I’d never do as much walking as I do now, especially on a dull dismal winter’s day.”
Matthew Kerfoot, who gave up life in pharmaceutical and food manufacture to teach other people how to train their dogs and also takes dogs in for residential training, added: “The great pleasure is training your dog, seeing how it improves and seeing how well it responds. It gives you immense satisfaction to work as a team.”
Ellie Hammonds, 16, who is about to sit 10 GCSEs said: “It’s a big time in our lives, just as I am sure it was for all those who have sat their exams before. You can’t help thinking that it is going to shape your life and you must do your best. I have two dogs myself, Billie and Reggie, and yes they are a source of comfort and joy at this time.”
The doggy de-stress programme also saw a presentation by Support Dogs UK on how dogs offer vital support to the wheelchair users and those with other disabilities.
King’s learning support teacher Natalie Davis also staged a number of Mindfulness sessions to teach practical strategies to apply around exam time to help the pupils keep calm and manage stress.
She said: “Research suggests that Mindfulness can help young people to concentrate and learn more effectively, to manage anxiety, to think more clearly and to perform better when under pressure. Our pupils have embraced these sessions just before they start their study leave and exams”
King’s senior teacher Ruth Roberts, who organised the day, said: “An essential element of examination technique is being able to relax. Just like a sportsperson, you perform better when you are relaxed and the doggy de-stress programme was a way of relieving the strain.”
●● Vet John Yarwood with Matthew Kerfoot in the centre their dogs with King’s pupils and teacher Ruth Roberts.