Tails from the Classroom

Learning and teaching through animal-assisted interventions

By: Russell Grigg , Helen Lewis


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 222x182mm
Pages : 256
ISBN : 9781785835056
Format: Paperback
Published: December 2020

Written by Helen Lewis and Russell Grigg, Tails from the Classroom: Learning and teaching through animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) is a fascinating exploration of the use of AAIs in educational settings and how they can inspire and support learners’ all-round development.

There is growing interest in the idea of bringing animals into the classroom, but it is only recently that researchers have gathered clear data to show the impact of AAIs on the behavioural, emotional, physical and cognitive development of children and young people.

Tails from the Classroom brings together this research in a highly accessible way, illustrated with real-life case studies from a range of classroom contexts. It also includes lots of practical guidance on how to set up, manage and evaluate a project, ensuring that the welfare of all participants, including the animals, is a priority.

Helen and Russell discuss how AAIs can contribute towards learning in different subject areas and across the curriculum, sharing a wide range of examples to illustrate possible starting points for teachers in a range of subject and thematic contexts – even in less obvious areas such as the arts, literature, and religious and moral codes.

They also provide a historical overview of human–animal interactions, highlighting how animals have played a central part in humans’ social, spiritual and cultural development. This then underpins the authors’ exploration into animals’ potential role in enhancing particular dimensions of children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development and well-being.

This groundbreaking book is not just for animal-loving educators, however. It is for anyone who is serious about inspiring learners of all ages and prepared to explore new ways of doing so.

Suitable for educators working with learners of all ages.

Picture for author Russell Grigg

Russell Grigg

Dr Russell Grigg was previously an associate professor at the Wales Centre for Equity in Education, and has extensive experience in teacher training and has written many books and articles on the subject of primary education. Since 2018, Russell has been working as an education inspector for the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates.

Click here to take a look at Russell's Padlet page, where he asks for your contributions to the question, What's the best idea in education ever?'.

Check out the new Teaching on a Shoestring website. 

Picture for author Helen Lewis

Helen Lewis

Dr Helen Lewis is Programme Director for PGCE at Swansea University School of Education. Part of her role involves leading an educational anthrozoology module, and undertaking original research into the impact of animal-assisted interventions in educational settings. After studying animal and human behaviour at university she became a primary school teacher and has worked in education for over twenty years.

10 at-home learning ideas that hardly cost a penny' - click here to read the full article on The School Run.


  1. 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.
  2. Tails from the Classroom is a wonderful resource that will help readers gain a deeper understanding of how students can benefit from interacting with animals and the positive impact that this can have on their learning and well-being.-¯It offers a significant step towards inspiring more educators to consider discovering the power of teaching and learning through animal-assisted interventions. 
  3. Helen and Russell's book shares fascinating insights into the use of animals in education and beyond. It provides an academic exploration of the important roles that animals have played, and continue to play, in human development. Taking perspectives from psychology, history, biology and sociology, Tails from the Classroom offers an interdisciplinary approach to an under-explored topic in education research.
  4. Tails from the Classroom is a fascinating book which is intellectually stimulating but also practice orientated and packed with lots of tips and ideas. It is a must-read for anyone wanting to learn more about animals in schools and more broadly about animal-assisted education. 
  5. Tails from the Classroom is a detailed, thorough and comprehensive pulling together of how our lives with animals are intimately entangled throughout time.-¯Packed with empirical and anecdotal evidence which reviews the field of anthrozoology and the humanities, it offers wonderful insights into the many benefits of our interspecies relationships. Furthermore, it provides a practical guide for teachers and professionals involved in supporting children's learning and their social and emotional well-being. 

    Covering the latest research - ranging from reading-to-dogs schemes to animal-assisted interventions for children and young people with complex and additional needs - it sets out a compelling case for more
    child-animal entanglements in educational settings.-¯Using a variety of case studies, figures and tables, Helen and Russell present the related theory and concepts for those interested in the effective implementation
    of these interventions. In doing so, they illustrate the accompanying enhancements to child development, learning and well-being - and make clear that the case for a -˜pet pedagogy' is unequivocal and should be embraced alongside current curricula.
  6. Comprehensive and intelligently written, Tails from the Classroom is the ultimate guide for all educators wishing to work with animals within their settings. Ethical, inspiring and deeply informative, this outstanding book is destined to become an educational classic. 
  7. Tails from the Classroom is a moving and engaging study of the impact of animal-assisted interventions on teaching and learning. It celebrates the beautiful partnerships formed between animals and humans and the powerful effect animals can have on the social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of the learners in our classrooms.

    One cannot fail to draw the conclusion from this research that animal-assisted interventions have a significant impact on the learning environment, promoting a climate in which learners can feel relaxed and calm. Clearly, there is more work to be done in establishing the cause and effect of animal-assisted interventions with a wider range of school-based experiences - and the education community would certainly benefit from further research of this nature. Nevertheless, there is little doubt from reading the heart-warming case studies in Tails from the Classroom that animal-assisted interventions are a profoundly valuable addition to our pedagogical practice.  
  8. Have you often thought you would like to use animals to assist your teaching in the classroom but are worried about the health and safety of your learners? If yes, then you must read Tails from the Classroom. While this book outlines the benefits school dogs and animals can bring to many children, it also emphasises the importance of following a careful evaluation process and provides guidance on how to ensure risk assessment as an essential and ongoing process embedded in your teaching and learning. 
  9. This remarkable book explores how children's interactions with animals can contribute to their social, emotional, intellectual and physical development and well-being. It is a highly engaging and accessible read that is rather hard to put down!-¯ 

    Rich, varied and highly stimulating, Tails from the Classroom breaks new ground by exploring emerging evidence and offering new ways forward for working with animals in schools and colleges.  

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