Our Wellbeing Dog
A unique feature of our school is our wellbeing dog, Yogi, he is certainly the most popular member of our staff.
We firmly believe that working with Yogi provides pupils with many benefits, including building confidence and self-esteem. He is used to provide consolation, comfort and sometimes as a motivator. Pupils can take Yogi for a walk within the school grounds or sit with him for a few minutes in a quiet space, he greets pupils in the morning, interacts with them at unstructured time and waves them off safely after a busy school day.
Research suggests that communities are enriched by the presence of animals, a calm and well-trained dog, can support social and peer interaction and help develop communication. Dogs give unconditional acceptance, as they are non-judgmental. Children can benefit educationally and emotionally, increase their understanding of responsibility and develop empathy and nurturing skills through contact with a dog. Research has proved that students who read to dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and an increase in intra and interpersonal skills among the children they mix with.
Pupils cannot fail in any way in their relationship with Yogi. He offers unconditional affection and communication. Pupils learn the principles of good pet ownership and are given a sense of responsibility through their contact with him. Pupils are also taught how to handle dogs safely and responsibly and what hygiene measures they need after petting him.
Yogi is a labradoodle, a breed that are known for their good nature and are hypoallergenic. He is supervised at all times by an attuned member of staff so that his needs are met too and has been fully risk assessed.
We do of course recognize that not all pupils, staff and visitors like dogs, may be afraid of them, or may have an allergic reaction to them, and this is carefully and sensitively managed. Any parent who does not wish their child to interact with Yogi is invited to discuss this with the class teacher.
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I can sense the energy of the teaching staff. It feels like the kind of school where my child will thrive rather than stagnate/plod along.