COWLEY International College have a new staff member with the introduction of their first ever therapy dog to help students.

Rolo, a chocolate-coloured cockapoo, has recently completed his training and is now fully qualified as a therapy dog and will be supporting the learning and wellbeing of Cowley students.

He will be spending time with students in lessons as well as during break and lunch times, working in both the college's 11-16 and Sixth Form sites. Additionally, he will be introducing himself to the students' families at events such as parents’ evenings, making him an important part of the college's community.

Therapy dogs have been commonplace in schools in America and Australia for many years and, more recently, have started emerging across schools in the UK.

Research has shown numerous benefits to young people of having a canine companion in school including improved self-esteem, encouraging responsibility and teaching compassion and respect.

Russell Cormack, the college’s Headteacher, explains that Rolo is a welcome addition to the staff: “The health and wellbeing of our students and staff is of the utmost importance and so we are very excited to introduce a new member of staff to the college.

“It took a great deal of research and planning to get to this stage. However, eventually the students voted about the decision and the result was overwhelmingly in favour of ‘recruiting’ a therapy dog.

“We see the wonderful initiative of bringing in a therapy dog as a way of further improving our health and wellbeing provision.

“Rolo is joining our college to help support our students. However, he will also be available to all members of our school community who may benefit from his help and we see him as a very important member of our team moving forward.

“Our hope is that Rolo is a success in his new role, the students respond well to him and then we can ‘appoint’ another therapy dog to help Rolo with his work.”

Teacher Stuart Coulson has been looking after the dog and believes he is the right fit for the college: “Rolo is a gentle and friendly dog who has a great temperament around people, making him perfect to be Cowley’s therapy dog.

“Having sailed through his training, he’s very excited to be taking on this new role at college and can’t wait to meet all the students.”