St. Francis of the Fields was the first school in Australia to invest in the Dogs Connect program. The school community is approximately over 500 students and is situated on a working farm in Strathfieldsaye.
In 2015 St Francis invested in the Full-Scale Program over 2 years with Sonny (the dog). During this time, we built Sonny into the schools teaching and learning practices to help develop social and emotional skills for student and staff.
Sonny worked in many school settings from classrooms, school assemblies, school masses, farm, including going on school excursions and camps to support students and staff.
Outcomes included: improved learning and connectedness for students and staff, understanding of awareness, empathy, relationship between heart rate and emotional states, and how to practice regulation. Other results indicate an increase in engagement, attentiveness towards teachers, and a general calming effect for students and staff.
“In our classrooms we like our kids to be likeable and independent and to do that, we need to work on social and emotional wellbeing. As far as developing leadership, communication and collaboration, our dog Sonny, has definitely helped with all of this”.
Grace Scholora, Wellbeing Coordinator at St Francis Primary School Strathfieldsaye.