The Taunton Academy is welcoming a new student – Bonzo the therapy dog. Bonzo, who is also teacher Tamara Dixon’s family pet, is a miniature schnauzer and was born on 2nd May 2021. The breed is known for its calm and caring nature. Bonzo has had lots of early socialisation with children at the home of his breeder and is having additional training to ensure his suitability to work with the academy. He has started his transition work into school with Mrs Dixon and is settling in well; getting used to the community, environment and routines.

Mrs Dixon, who is Head of Year 9, said: “It’s recognised that children’s emotional well being is at the root of positive behaviour and success with socialising, as well as in the classroom. A dog can support children who are anxious about school and could be the reason that they want to come in every morning.

“There is an increasing body of research to support the benefit of a dog in school. Reading dogs are being used to help children develop their literacy and therapy dogs to provide comfort and reassurance to children with anxiety and self confidence issues. Children with trouble managing their behaviour could learn to care for the dog and they can be helpful in de-escalating anger. Reading dogs can help boost children’s confidence and fluency.”

The school officially welcomes Bonzo in September.