In Tails from the Classroom Helen Lewis and Russell Grigg have produced an excellently researched, practically focused and well-balanced book examining current evidence and the benefits and pitfalls around the use of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) as an aid to teaching and learning.
Readers will gain greatly from the well-researched discussion on the positive impact of AAIs in terms of promoting emotional well-being, language and literacy skills, motivation, attitudes across a wide range of curriculum areas, and for those pupils with additional needs.
The range of animals that can be used for the purpose of AAIs is extensively covered by the authors, with the emphasis on choosing the appropriate animal for your context. The section on -˜cautionary tales' is particularly beneficial for staff in all sectors, including safeguarding issues, the -˜Ballymena incident', undertaking risk assessment, keeping parents and guardians informed, and creating their knowledge of risks and benefits of AAIs. The example of actual policies and strategies in practice at The Bishop of Llandaff High School is very beneficial.
The book is very well structured with regular summary sections and case studies, which generate and support reflection on the broad benefits for learners, while also raising awareness of key safeguarding and welfare issues for all participants.
I recommend Tails from the Classroom as a must-read for all learning and caring establishments considering the use of AAIs.