Students of The Wellington Academy in Tidworth are set to meet an unusual new classmate when the school reopens in September – a puppy.

Sixteen-week-old fox red Labrador named Duke is set to join the academy to work as a therapy dog to provide support to students who need comforting or companionship.

The decision to get a dog for the institution was taken after conducting a survey among parents to find out how they would feel about it.

Duke has been bought for the school by its sponsor Wellington College. He will start working as a therapy dog after undertaking the necessary training.

He has been named after the Duke of Wellington.

Andover Advertiser: Duke is already popular among the summer school studentsDuke is already popular among the summer school students

The Wellington Academy’s senior deputy headteacher Rob Wood said the puppy had a warm welcome from students when he popped in to meet some of them at their summer school earlier this month.

“There is a lot of research that demonstrates the benefit of having a dog in certain environments, including schools and residential establishments, and thanks to Wellington College’s generosity we have been able to adopt Duke and are putting him through training to be a therapy dog,” Mr Wood added.

“Before we decided to adopt a dog for the school, we surveyed parents to find out how they would feel about it, and we had overwhelming support from them – every response was positive.

“Duke won’t be a pet, but he will be a great support for any young people who may need some comforting or companionship during the school day.”

Andover Advertiser: He has been named after the Duke of Wellington.He has been named after the Duke of Wellington.

The dog is being trained by the charity Dogs for Health, which works with schools, ambulance services and residential homes.

Mr Wood said Duke, as a working dog, will learn not to become excited or jump up at people, but to sit next to them quietly and calmly and be a soothing influence. Staff at The Wellington Academy are also being taught how to treat Duke as a working dog, rather than a pet.

“Duke will come in three days a week at first, creating a family feel in the school, but also working with the special educational needs team to offer reassurance to any students who may be feeling a bit overwhelmed or upset.

“Students will be able to have him there next to them, perhaps to read to him, and he’ll also spend some time in the library and probably in some of my classes, so everyone gets to know him and interact with him.

“At The Wellington Academy we are very mindful that every child is different, and any one of them may welcome some additional support at some point in their school career, and Duke is the latest addition to our extensive range of pastoral care activities for our students.”

For more information about Dogs for Health go to