Four-legged ‘teacher’ school’s new recruit
PRIMARY school children in Bollington might just get away with blaming the dog for eating their homework after their school adopted its very own puppy.
Rocky the Cavachon - a cross between a Bichon Frise and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - has been introduced St Gregory’s Primary School as the latest member of staff, working as a therapy and listening dog for both pupils and teachers.
The puppy - who is just 10 weeks old - lives in headmaster John Daly’s office and makes his way around the classrooms to meet children and work with them on different projects.
Mr Daly said: “The children absolutely love him, he’s very popular.
“He’s hypoallergenic which means by one will be bothered to him and there won’t be hairs everywhere.
“He lifts peoples spirits - both children and staff - if they are having a bad day they can just come and have a cuddle. It’s well known that dogs have a very calming affect.”
He added: “But it’s not just about being a fuzzy fluffball, he’s a school dog and has a job.
“He is going to be trained as a therapy and listening dog so the children can read to him, and he will be well socialised so he’s happy around all the children.
“He is very much an educational dog, the children learn about taking responsibility for something other than themselves and learn about different kinds of empathy too.”
He added: “We’ve got three children with little dog phobias. We are one week in and already one of them - with the support of a parent and support worker - has become much more comfortable around him.”
Mr Daly, who is also an Ofsted inspector, came up with the idea of getting a puppy for the school after learning about a similar scheme in Wigan.
He said: “I met a teacher who had one at a school in Wigan.
“He told me about a child who hadn’t smiled for 18 months and as soon as the dog arrived they completely transformed.
“I just thought it sounded fantastic and what a great thing for our students here.
“Everyone was so supportive of the idea straight away, governors, the parents, they all thought it was great.”
The dog enjoyed his first outing at the school fair at the weekend and the PTA have even bought him a customised St Gregory’s Jacket and lead.
●● Rocky pictured at school with headteacher John Daly and pupils