Students at one Weymouth secondary school have been receiving well-being support from a four-legged friend.

Otis, a Jack Russell, is on hand for hugs and cuddles throughout the school day at Budmouth Academy.

Otis, a professionally-assessed support dog who is almost 7-years-old, resides at the Student Support Centre on site at the school. He complements the work carried out by his owner Ali Lawrence, who leads a four-member team, supporting the mental health and well-being of the 1500+ students who attend the Academy.

Budmouth Academy Principal Mike Hoffman pictured with Otis

Mrs Lawrence, Budmouth Academy’s Student Support Centre Manager, explained to the Dorset Echo: “The Student Support Centre is a place for pupils to feel nurtured and their mental wellbeing supported.

“There are four members in the team and we provide one-to-one support and group interventions for students.”

The centre opens at 7.30am for Breakfast Club and is an opportunity for students to come up and play with Otis. Like the rest of the team, he is here all day to help students who may be struggling at school or with their mental health. Mrs Lawrence added: “Otis will sit on the laps of students or bring them a toy to play with. It’s not uncommon to see students upset or angry when they come to see us at the support centre but within minutes of seeing Otis and sitting on the floor to play with him, their moods have changed and they’re calm.’’

Mike Hoffmann, Principal at Budmouth Academy, said: “The Academy embraces the principles of Nurture, which recognises many of the complex issues that affect young people. Otis helps with this, but the really hard work is done by our superb Student Support Team, led by Ali. Together they support hundreds of Budmouth students every day.”