As part of National Pet Month, we had a focus week dedicated to all things pet-related during the week beginning 30th April. It is the second time that we have run this event at The Friary and it was bigger and better than ever before. With over 30 staff bringing their pets in, two workshops provided by animal charities and two lectures for our students provided by veterinarians, the school embraced and investigated the nation’s love affair with pets from many different angles.

The week wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful as it was if it hadn’t been for the efforts of our staff. Many rearranged commitments at home and even got family to bring in and collect pets so that our students could have an exciting and broad-ranging experience. Mrs Morris brought in her Turtles, Miss Campion brought in Prudence, the Ferret, and a number of staff brought in their dogs; Mrs Welch brought three! The star of the week though had to be Miss Cartwright’s horse, Dash, who came in to see her Y7 class, and eat lots of carrots! As well as getting chance to hear about each member of staff’s pets, the students also learned a lot about the commitments and costs involved in having a pet. There was also a strong message on the exercise benefits of having a dog, with a daily dog-walk across the field being a big hit with many of our students.

One of the key messages associated with National Pet Month is that of responsible pet ownership. Two groups of students were able to attend a workshop from Birmingham Dogs’ Home and the Hall Green Greyhound Trust. Whilst it was saddening to hear about what happens to some pets who are not properly cared for, it was great for our students to hear about the amazing work that these two charities do and that, in the vast majority of cases, there is a happy ending thanks to the hard work done by the volunteers at these two charities. The students heard all about some case studies, got to meet rescue dogs and had some training on safety around dogs.

We never miss an opportunity to push careers at The Friary, and National Pet Week was no exception. We were very lucky to have a visit from not one, but two vets during the week. Emma (Vet) and Helena (Veterinary Nurse) from Britannia Park Veterinary Centre came in to give a short lecture on what the job involves, what qualifications are needed and how to make yourself stand out from the crowd; they then took questions from our students. We were also very lucky to have Gil Riley come in to do a similar session; Gil is a partner at Pool House Equine Clinic and gave the students a fantastic insight into the demands of the job as well as some very interesting information on the changing nature of veterinary practice. Hopefully, we will be able to keep these links going as there was mention of work experience opportunities and a personal invite for a group of students to visit the brand new Pool House Equine Clinic, opening in Fradley in June.

Assistant Headteacher, Jason Cain, said: “The week has been a huge success and the students have thoroughly enjoyed everything that has been going on. Around 250 students have attended one of the activities running during the course of the week, with every single student receiving a talk on the benefits and commitment involved in having a pet from a member of staff during assembly. As an animal lover myself, it was great to see dogs in the corridors, in the classrooms and on the field. Apart from a stolen sandwich in the Science office, all of the animals were an absolute credit to their owners and I am very grateful to the staff who brought their pets in. The vet talks were a particular highlight and out of the 95 students who have indicated through careers questionnaires that they would like to work in the veterinary industry, 85 came along to hear more about it. Whilst the week was very much a celebration, there was also an underlying theme about the levels of responsibility and commitment required when taking on pet”.