We are very excited to introduce you to a new member of our team at Petersfield. Freddie belongs to Mrs Hodgkinson and is two years old. Freddie is a cocker spaniel, a breed known for being friendly and gentle but also having endless energy. He will be in school a couple of days a week. You may be aware that there is a growing movement in many schools to reintroduce the concept of school pets as a way of teaching all children responsibility and providing a source of pleasure and learning. Of particular interest, is the current move towards ‘wellbeing dogs’ or ‘reading dogs’. These dogs provide a source of comfort and relaxation for children and adults who may need ‘someone’ to talk to or just someone who will accept them and offer comfort or a calming influence in their lives. There is much evidence that children who struggle with relationships or with managing their own emotions gain a great deal from spending time with a pet.
In summary, academic research has shown that dogs working and helping in the school environment:
- benefit children’s social and emotional development
- have a calming effect on pupils, particularly those with behavioural or learning difficulties
- improve behaviour and concentration, reduce stress and improve self-esteem
- encourage expression and participation in more withdrawn children
- foster a sense of responsibility
- motivate pupils to think and to learn, as children have a high level of natural interest in, enthusiasm for and enjoyment of animals
- encourage respect and thereby improving pupils’ relationships with each other, parents and teacher
- teach children to nurture and to have respect for life
- help children build confidence in reading
- reduce children’s anxieties if they have a fear of dogs
- reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, helping to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading.
We are aware that there is a possibility of some children and adults having an allergic reaction however small to Freddie. As a school we already manage a number of allergies and this will be no different for children and adults that are allergic to dogs. Individual needs will always be met and we are happy to work with parents to put additional control measures in place for individual allergies.
Being scared of dogs
Some children may have had upsetting experiences and thus have a fear of dogs (or another animal). Freddie will only be in contact with children whose parents have given their permission.
Freddie has been brought up in a home with children and has a very loving and gentle nature. Experience and research have shown that, with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to overcome their fear of animals and grow in respect and appreciation for them.
No dog policy
Our school does have a ‘no dogs’ policy, however because Freddie is to be our wellbeing dog, specific rules will apply to him and him alone.
He will be on a lead at all times when moving around the school property and will always be accompanied by an adult. Freddie will also be fully insured to carry out his role thus allowing him to be on the school site.
We understand that it is not possible for all families to have a dog and therefore we hope that this is an opportunity for children to share in a dog and gain from forming a relationship and contact on a regular basis. We hope you will join us in welcoming Freddie to the Petersfield family and embrace all that he has to offer the school.