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We are delighted to launch our animal therapy hub at Varndean School in collaboration with the student wellbeing team and student therapy animal team.

Why are we invested in having an animal therapy hub in school?

There are many benefits to having therapy animals in a school setting, the main one being the health and well-being of both students and staff alike. An animal often has an immediate calming effect by just being near.

Physical benefits: Interaction with therapy animals has been shown to reduce blood pressure, provide physical stimulation and assist with pain management.

Social benefits: Therapy animals promote greater self-esteem and focused interaction with other students and teachers.

Cognitive benefits: It has been empirically proven that therapy animals stimulate memory and problem-solving skills.

Emotional and mental health benefits: Therapy animals can lift moods in the classroom, often provoking laughter. Therapy animals are there to offer friendship and as a comfort to students, which is even more important for our students as we see an increase of mental health concerns across the country. 

How will it operate?

Students have been involved in designing the new animal therapy hub and are very much part of the day to day running of the hub. 

- Each school has chosen the therapy animals they would like and students will be responsible for taking care and nurturing their animals. 

- Students in the teams agreed that they wanted animals that can be brought into their school base, classroom or ILS so that they could be read to and used to help calm and soothe students. 

- Each school base will have their own animal hub and be responsible for its design and upkeep.

- We are hoping that students will be able to take the animals home during the holidays once we have established the hub so that the animals get the care and attention they need when students are not in school.

Meet our therapy animals:


We are delighted to introduce the first members of our animal therapy family who have only arrived this week. Each school base will have two Continental Giant Rabbits. The rabbits are 9 weeks old and we look forward to sharing their names and their progress over the coming weeks.

 Varndean rabbits

Guinea Pigs

We are currently looking for some guinea pigs to add to our family and students are helping us source these from reputable breeders.


Ellis has a special request for a tortoise so watch this space!


We are very grateful to Ferring Country Centre for taking good care of our goats during the building work. We have made the sensible decision, based on the space now available to us in school, following the building work, that they would be better looked after at this centre. We’ve been to visit them and it doesn’t seem fair to bring them back from the wide open spaces they are now accustomed to. They are still very much our goats and we have a scheduled farm visit programme underway where we will take students to visit and may even have them on our site over the year to visit us.

For updates, please follow our Animal Therapy Twitter page: @VarndeanTPets for more details. We look forward to families meeting our new animals and sharing their success.

Student Wellbeing Team and Animal Therapy Team