"Spencer" - Therapy Dog Initiative

Monday 30 October 2017

An initiative that I am introducing for Autumn 2 onwards is “Spencer”, please read my letter below:


Dear Parents, Carers & Students

The voyage of personal and academic discovery is key to shaping every student to be all that they can be.  At Charter Academy we strive to clearly establish and support individual strengths and weaknesses in order to improve the lives of all our students, with a clear mission to develop the “whole child”.

We pride ourselves on making sure each child can embody the 3A’s of Aspiration for AllAchievement for All, and Active Participation for All which will include a moral make up to:

  • Aim High
  • Be Brave
  • Be Kind
  • Keep Learning

Whilst we will ensure that all students continually gain in confidence, ambition and learn to successfully express and communicate with each other and adults alike; we understand that our students will come across obstacles and difficult times which naturally we all experience as human beings.

Aside from focussing on academic achievement, we want to be able to assist students through superb pastoral care. We are therefore thrilled to inform you that we will be introducing the use of a Therapy Dog, ‘Spencer’, to Charter Academy.

You may or may not have heard of Pets as Therapy (PAT), a charity which uses animals as a form of treatment to improve social, emotional, cognitive functioning and communication. There is extensive research which supports the effectiveness of a therapy animal in the pastoral care of children to decrease anxiety and enable students to work through issues such as exam stress, anger management, bullying and other social issues.

The introduction of a non-threatening therapy dog can also serve as a catalytic vehicle for forming adaptive and appropriate social interactions and academic attainment, ultimately, enhancing an overall well-being.

The aim is for Spencer to be suitably introduced and socialised in small working sessions, specifically targeting selected groups of students that are comfortable with interaction.

Spencer is a chocolate brown Labrador who will be introduced to the school as a young puppy and will undergo extensive training and PAT Exams consisting of a robust criteria that must be achieved to the highest level.

Spencer is uniquely bred by an International Breeder of working dogs.  All the working dogs are examined under the British Veterinary Association and are all Kennel Club Registered, Kennel Club Inspected (Like Ofsted) and Local Authority Inspected.  The Breeder specialises in the highest quality of pedigree, ensuring Spencer is from a blood line of excellent temperament, specific for a therapy purpose. 

We will aim to tactfully introduce the students so that both Spencer and the students can develop a bond together whilst taking part in a variety of projects which will benefit the children academically, such as: Read2Dogs, Bark & Read and also the reduction of Pre-exam anxiety.

From a health and safety perspective, Spencer will not be accessible to students that do not wish to participate in interaction for any reason such as allergies or a phobia. Spencer will be securely kept in a separate area of restricted access only within the main school and will be suitably insured with a comprehensive risk assessment. The timetabling of Spencer as a PAT dog will be carefully targeted and managed. 

There is a great deal of information available to you should you wish to investigate Pets as Therapy purpose animals further. I have listed key resources and summarised the key benefits:

  • Cognitive - companionship from a dog stimulates memory, problem solving skills and thinking.
  • Social - a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, promotes greater self-esteem, reduces stress and emotional trauma, whilst lifting moods.
  • Environmental - sense of ownership, increasing compassion and giving a sense of responsibility amongst young people and children.
  • Reduce anxiety and manage anger - an animals presence is scientifically proven to release endorphins which increase our positive mood.
  • Improve - reading skills, comprehension, confidence and literary interest.
  • Please take a look at the websites of Pets as Therapy, Read2Dogs and Bark & Read. Students will also be able to structure creative activities around Spencer, promoting Literacy. 


At Charter, we focus on the “whole child”.  We also want every student to be proud of their school and themselves, confident in who they are and what they will aspire to be, culminating in high achievement. We strongly believe in introducing Spencer as part of our “community” here at Charter Academy and he will contribute for many years to come.

Should you have any concerns or wish to discuss with me further please write to the school, care of the Principal’s PA.


Mr Barnes


When Spencer is in school the following poster will be displayed: