Many children find reading a challenge this may be for a variety of reasons, gaps in education, levels of enjoyment, a condition such as dyslexia etc – Sarah Stevens – is a headteacher, SENDCO and specialist in ASD as well as using a dog for self-esteem, reading and additional support for pupils with varying needs. In addition, Sarah has also worked as a disability employment advisor and police constable and has an understanding of child development, youth employment and the barriers to this. This project to be run over six – 12 weeks in school with selected children has the key foci of developing reading skills, improving enjoyment in school, lessening anxiety and building self esteem.
The aims of the school dog project:
- - Increase self esteem levels of students as monitored by the Rosenburg self – esteem model
- - Increase awareness of work within an animal related business for pupils
- - Support students in understanding the importance of reading
- - Improve engagement in other subjects as a consequence of the project and wider project plan
- Show impact of dogs working within Albury and Puller settings and consider the future use of dogs and animals within the setting
Teasel is a male labrador born 29th February 2017. He was bought with the support and advice of the charity Dogs helping Kids. (Teasel worked for this charity until it unfortunately folded during the covid pandemic). Teasel first started visiting school in 2017 and began work following intensive training locally in Hertfordshire and at the DHK headquarters in Barnstaple, Devon. Teasel has worked with children at a number of schools and with young adults in education support centres. His successes include (But are far from limited to):
- A child with autism who had not previously expressed feelings and emotions was able to express love for Teasel and then their wider family
- A teenager displaced from school with low attendance moved to 100% attendance rates during working with the dog and returned to mainstream education
- All children he has worked with have expressed a rise in self esteem levels as monitored via the Rosenburg Self Esteem Model
Restrictions / Policy:
As Teasel works in partnership with Sarah Stevens there are restrictions to his deployment as she is the headteacher of two schools. Teasel can only be in school when his welfare is paramount and when Sarah can fully focus on his welfare and his work. All RSPCA guidance for welfare is followed, signage is placed around school when he is working. All classrooms have posters to support the children in understanding his role and to help them behave appropriately when he is working in school. Please follow that advice if you visit when he is at work.