Kids + FamilyJune 04, 2024 / 2 minute read

Animals helping students reach their potential

To support students with complex needs, a school in Carbrook has turned to a curriculum that includes student wellbeing, individualised education and a timid Palomino pony named Daisy.

A group of animals – including horses, dogs, chickens and a pig – play an important part at Carbrook Animal Assisted Learning Centre, a special assistance secondary school for students who were previously disengaged from education.

The school operates based on the understanding that students who live with a disability or different socio-emotional needs often struggle to fit in at school, leading to disengagement.

According to Principal Anna Borneman, many students have never realised their full potential.

‘When students feel safe and have a sense of belonging in the school environment, learning really takes off and happens,’ she says.

Darani Cumming, an equestrian coach and the centre’s Animal Assisted Learning Program Coordinator, says students can learn vital skills such as self-confidence and emotional regulation from animals like horses.

‘As herd animals, horses are great models because they help students learn things about themselves, how community works and what it means to be trustworthy and safe,’ she says.

‘Horses can pick up on your energy – the way you move, the way you speak, even your posture.

‘We focus on teaching the students how to be kind, firm and confident leaders when taking care of the animals.’

A good example of this is Daisy – more skittish than the other horses – who requires students to practise being calm around her.

The school’s 84 per cent student attendance rate indicates that previously disengaged students are benefiting from the school’s unique approach to education and the animal-human connection.

Your Privacy

This website uses ‘cookies’ for analytical purpose and to improve site user experience. By continuing to browse, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.