A unique feature of The Iffley Academy is our use of dogs. We firmly believe that working with animals provides students with many benefits, including building confidence, developing empathy and enhancing mental wellbeing. We have now introduced small animals to our community by establishing PACKHAM HOUSE, a designated building to accommodate our new friends.

As with dogs, students cannot fail in any way in their relationship with the small animals: our furry friends do not judge or condemn and offer unconditional affection. Students learn the principles of good pet ownership and are given a sense of responsibility through their contact with the creatures. More than that: as all our small animals are rescues, the students develop compassion and patience.

The small animals are cared for by a highly committed team of staff and provided with a ‘luxury hotel experience’ during the holidays. We ensure that they have a suitable temperament and characteristics for working with students. Those small animals that are less comfortable with handling, are only observed to ensure that the welfare and well-being of the animals is paramount. On entering PACKHAM HOUSE, the students are made very aware that this is the animals’ home and maintaining a calm, respectful atmosphere is essential. The Blue Cross fully endorses our project.

Interactions with the animals are supervised at all times by the team or a nominated adult. Risk Assessments are completed for every aspect of working with the small animals in PACKHAM HOUSE and students are taught how to handle them safely and responsibly.