Animals as intervention: How schools are making use of animals as part of their educational provision

Hill, Emma (2020) Animals as intervention: How schools are making use of animals as part of their educational provision. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex. Full text available

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Background: The benefits of the human-animal bond have been documented across time and disciplines. More recently, international scientific research has provided promising results showing benefits to children and young people (CYP) of a range of ages, across a range of areas of impact; with no known study demonstrating a detrimental impact. However, no research to date has investigated current practice of including animals within educational settings in the UK. Aims: The aims of the current project were: 1) to explore whether, and how, animals are being included in UK based educational settings, 2) to consider what works and why to establish and incorporate animals in a school-based setting, 3) to consider what barriers exist in including animals in school-based settings and how have school staff/systems overcome them. Design: The research used a mixed methods design. Electronic surveys were sent to each statutory-aged school setting within a UK based Local Authority. From the survey respondents, 4 participants who were including animals in their setting completed semi-structured interviews. Analysis: Survey data was analysed using descriptive statistics. Interview data was analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: Results showed that approximately half of educational settings are including animals; mostly to support CYP’s general development and emotional wellbeing and mental health. All participants currently including animals intended to continue, and would recommend the practice to other settings. 5 broad themes and 10 broad subthemes were present across participants’ qualitative data. Further specific subthemes were identified for some participants; and each participant’s data was reported individually. Conclusions: The study shows UK school settings are including animals and supports previous research studies highlighting the perceived benefits of this practice. It also highlights the need and considerations required for schools to engage safely and effectively with the practice; from the perspective and experience of those currently including animals.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology awarded by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in association with the University of Essex
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology, Edpsych Updates
Subjects: Learning & Education > Educational Psychology
Learning & Education > Learning & Education in Psychology
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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