Eastbourne primary school explores animal therapy with llamas and chickens

A primary school in Eastbourne has a range of animals for the children to engage with for wellbeing sessions.

The Parkland Federation in Hampden Park, made up of the infant and primary school, is home to two llamas, chickens, and ducks.

The school celebrated the second birthdays of llamas Luna and Star.

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Lisa Taylor, animal coordinator, said the duo has been at the school for a year and are looked after by staff and pupils all year round.

Animal therapy at Parkland School (photo by Jon Rigby)

She said the school has had chickens and ducks for a number of years, with hatching schemes resulting in up to 11 chickens and 14 ducks.

It was Lisa who joked about getting llamas, only for the idea to turn into reality after research. The llamas live in stables on site.

She said, “I jokingly said ‘can we have llamas?’ and after lots of research it was a yes!”

Every year group gets to get involved with animal care sessions as well as the option of after school clubs.

The Parkland School Federation (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Lisa said, “It gives children responsibility and the animals reach children in a way that other things can’t.

“The animals create a bond with the children.

"Children can come out and walk the llamas and this has a positive impact on their lessons too.”

Students can clean the llamas out, feed, groom, and walk them so it gives them a sense of responsibility too.

She said, “We can’t go any bigger than llamas, I would love donkeys though.”

Lisa said the school has four members of staff trained in beekeeping as they are aware of how critical this is for the environment and forms a part of their curriculum.

The school also has an eco-committee made up of children from all years and adults who work to educate the pupils about the importance of the environment and sustainability. The group goes litter picking in the local area and plants wild flowers.

Nine-year-old Oscar is part of the eco-committee and said one of the jobs he does is to clean out the stables and collect the llama manure. The children can then make fertiliser which is put on the flowers on site.

Lilia, from year 6, said, “I joined the after school club to get up close to the animals and look after them. My favourite part is walking them.”

Jo Hollobone, a staff members at Parkland, said, “It’s really good for the children – it has a really calming impact on the students from every year group. The llamas like being around the children too.”

She said all year groups love the animals and they've seen 'such a change’ in the children since the llamas arrived.

Parkland Federation website: Parkland Infant School and Parkland Junior School.

Keep Britain Tidy runs the world’s biggest schools’ environmental education programme – Eco-Schools.

More than 2.3 million children and young people are currently actively engaged in the Eco-Schools programme. It aims to give children the chance to learn about the environment and the role they can play in improving it. To find out more go to the Keep Britain Tidy website.

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