Meet Mabel, our beautiful school dog. She joined us in October 2019 and is not only extremely popular with pupils, staff and all visitors, but has a tremendously positive impact on life in our school.
Why do we have a school dog?
Here are just a few reasons and explanations as to why Mabel is such a benefit to the pupils in our school.
- Cognitive development – building a companionship with a dog helps children stimulate their memory, problem-solving and game-playing skills. Having a school dog is known to increase enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of animals, which motivates children to think and learn.
- Social skills – dogs provide a mutual topic for conversation with others, and encourage responsibility, wellbeing and focussed interaction with others.
- Emotional skills – dogs improve self-esteem, acceptance from others and are known for improving moods. Dogs can also help children develop compassion and respect for other living things and can reduce children’s anxiety. Building respect can improve children’s relationships with each other, parents and teachers and shows them how to nurture and care for another living thing. If any children are suffering from bereavement or are particularly sad, dogs can provide children with comfort and friendship.
- Physical development – interaction with dogs is known to reduce blood pressure, provide tactile stimulation, assist with pain management and give motivation for children to move and walk.
- Reading – school dogs are known to help children with their reading and literacy skills, through their calming presence and ability to listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. Children can build their confidence to read aloud to others through having a school dog.
- Transition into school - sometimes children find the separation from parents difficult, the dog can provide a soothing distraction and source of comfort and happiness, which can make that separation easier over time
- School community – having a school dog builds the sense of a family environment and togetherness.
During the day, Mabel is kept in Mrs Lewis’ office – returning to her house once the school day is over. A suitable bed, food, water and cleaning supplies are held for Mabel, and through training she is sufficiently toilet-trained. We must stress that pupils will not be expected to clean up any dog mess, and we will ensure that the school grounds are kept clean at all times. Pupils will not be able to access the area designated for Mabel to use.
Whenever Mabel is being walked around the school, she will has a short lead to ensure she is controlled at all times.
Pupils are able to visit Mabel during break and lunch times in the office or nurture area. Mabel visits pupils in their classrooms, particularly for children to read to her.
Pupils in Years 5 and 6 are able to walk Mabel around the school playground – we have carefully considered pupils’ ages and believe older pupils will be able to adequately control Mabel. Any pupils not in these years will not be able to walk Mabel – this is to ensure their safety. At all times, whether in classrooms or being walked by a pupil, an adult will supervise the activity.