Students facing challenges around learning and emotional development will soon be given support through a working ‘school dog’.
The Federation of Tiverton Schools is set to train and work Bramble, a Blue Border Terrier, across all key stages of learning, and she will become an integral part of the Federation providing evidence-based support to students.
Working across Tiverton High School, Heathcoat Primary and Rackenford Primary, Bramble will be trained through a registered charity to become a fully qualified ‘school dog’, employed to improve wellbeing and reduce anxiety or stress, as well as listening to children read.
Extensive research has proven that reading to dogs can help children to develop literacy skills and build confidence, something which Federation Head, Sammy Crook, believes is an important factor. She said: “There is an issue nationally with many children progressing from primary school to secondary below the expected national standard in reading. While we have many initiatives in place to combat these issues, Bramble will be able to work with students to build their literacy skills from primary school, right through to secondary school, bridging the gap and improving reading ability.”
A number of schools across the UK have also employed school dogs for the cognitive and emotional benefits, and Bramble will be used to help children who may suffer from any mental health issues. “Research suggests that having a school dog can improve self-esteem, teach compassion and respect, and relieve anxiety or stress,” explains Mrs Crook. “We are confident that having Bramble in school will aid students who can sometimes feel overwhelmed, and motivate students through interaction with her.”
Bramble will have her own crate in the school offices where she will have downtime in between lessons, and her overall care and welfare will be the responsibility of Mrs Crook. Before Bramble’s appointment, a thorough risk assessment was undertaken, and all staff and students will be made aware of how to behave around the new school dog.
Mrs Crook added: “We understand that there will be some students who are allergic to dogs, or may have fears of dogs or other animals. Bramble is here to support and encourage our students and we hope that many will experience the benefits of having her in school, but of course students don’t have to interact with her if they do not wish, and we will ensure that this is monitored closely.”
Bramble has already started her training, and will slowly be introduced into each of the schools before taking on her full-time role as the Federation’s School Dog.
If you would like to see the School Dog Policy, it can be found on the Policies page here.