The Mail is the latest to cover the idea of dogs being introduced into schools to help children with their reading and learning with a report from a secondary school in Essex…
…Flossie, a ten-month-old Cockapoo, was brought after studies revealed children feel more comfortable reading to pets because they are not judgemental like adults if they make a mistake.
The cocker spaniel/poodle cross has become a huge hit at Hylands School in Chelmsford, Essex, and teachers say they have already seen a marked improvement in literacy.
Her influence doesn’t end there – foreign language classes are more fun now that dog commands in French and Spanish are on the syllabus.
Flossie is also helping children with road safety skills during walkies with staff and pupils.
And her calm nature is being used to help children overcome their fear of animals.
Jacob Wicks, 11, who joined the school in September – the same time as the dog – said: ‘I think Flossie is cute, soft and lovely.
‘Reading to her could help as dogs can’t make bad comments like people can.’
Another first year, Jordan Leatherhead, added: ‘My favourite book is the Guinness Book of Records. I think Flossie would really enjoy me reading that to her as there are lots of records about dogs and other animals in there.’
Flossie came from a professional breeder and is looked after by deputy headteacher Sue Frost, who trained her.
The pet also attends Sunday training classes where she is now one of the top dogs after graduating to an expert group.
She has a full-time job at the school, which takes 11-18-year-olds and was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted inspectors last year.
Reading – which is done on a one-to-one basis – takes up two or three hours a day. Maths classes and tutor groups have also made use of her positive influence.
Mrs Frost said: ‘Flossie has had a great impact on our students. They love to read to her and we are seeing this is helping students with their vocabulary and allowing them to read more fluently.
‘There are lots of schools that are reaching an outstanding grade in their Ofsted inspection which we have struggled with, partly because of our levels of literacy.
‘Research shows that finding creative ways of boosting these grades is leading to higher results.’ More schools could have their own canine assistants in future under a literacy scheme by the Bark and Read Foundation, which is funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust…
More (including very cute photos!) at: Flossie the cockapoo lands a new job – helping young children to read at school by building up their self confidence
Learn more about the kennel Club’s Bark and Read Foundation at their website
So is this just a gimmick or a real opportunity to help children with their reading and learning? Should all schools be considering taking on a dog like Flossie? Please let us know what you think in the comments or via Twitter…