Therapy dog helps boost confidence and reduce nerves as students prepare for exams

A therapy dog visited more than 40 Ron Dearing UTC students to provide friendly support as they prepared for their English speaking and listening exams.

George, a Red Fox Labrador, attended the school with his owner Margaret Such as Year 10 students read their speeches aloud ahead of their assessments, helping to boost their confidence and reduce any nerves.

The visit was organised in conjunction with Underdog International, a charity which aims to positively impact one million children and dogs by 2025 through its “Dogs in Schools” programme, global education projects and dog adoption initiatives.

The charity specialises in enhancing education through therapy dogs and celebrating the bond between dogs and people.

George’s visit also marked the charity’s week-long fundraising event, “The Great British Bark Off”, which provides educational activities in schools to improve emotional and mental wellbeing.

Staff and students raised £25 for the charity by selling biscuits suitable for both dogs and people. Students also learnt more about reading dog body language and dog safety, as well as more information on the charity, during lessons leading up to the session.

Alice Dobson, SENDCo at Ron Dearing UTC, who organised the visit, said: “George and Margaret’s visit was great for the students.

“George was so calm and chilled out and everyone loved being around him.

“Having the opportunity to read their speeches to George and Margaret was fantastic and gave them a chance to speak in an alternative environment to the classroom, which really helped.

“Speaking and listening is an assessed part of the students’ English GCSE and they will receive a separate certificate for it, which meant George’s visit was even more valuable.

“We hope to have more dog visits through our partnership with Underdog International in the future.”

Year 10 students Freddie Walton, 14, and George Sage, 15, read their speeches to George and Margaret


Student Freddie Walton, 14, said: “George enjoyed listening to my speech about dogs and I enjoyed meeting him.

“I wrote a speech about XL Bully dogs and the changes in the law on owning them. Reading my speech to George and Margaret will help keep me calm during my exam and the visit was a wonderful idea.”

Year 10 student Natasha Hurd, 15, was delighted to meet George


Fellow student Natasha Hurd, 15, said: “George was so cute and we all loved stroking him.

“My speech is about mental health and how it impacts other people. I read it to George and Margaret and the experience will help with my exam. I feel more confident now.”

Year 10 student Seb Pearson, 14, with George


Seb Pearson, 14, wrote his speech on water accessibility and the importance of having access to clean water across the world.

He said: “I was comforting to have George around while we read our speeches. Margaret liked my idea and it was a good opportunity to practice before we’re assessed.”

For more information about Underdog International, visit