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Mayfield Street, Wigan, Lancashire, WN4 9QL

01942 701147

Meet Albie, our school dog

Many of you will have already met Albie our school dog. He is a one year old Golden Retriever and is owned by Mrs Tarbuck.

Last year it was agreed by the schools senior leadership team and the Governing body that purchasing a puppy for the school would bring many benefits to our children. We initially decided that we wanted the following:

· For the school to have a pet that was able to live as naturally as conditions would allow.

· For the animal to be properly cared for outside of the school day.

· To have a pet that the children could interact with and also be of benefit to the children’s social and emotional development.

Prior to purchasing the puppy, Mrs Tarbuck, Assistant Headteacher visited a number of breeders for different breeds of dogs and took advice from a variety of sources before making the final decision. The top priority for any dog has been to ensure that the temperament of the breed was suitable for interaction with children. The breeder that was selected is a registered and accredited breeder with the Kennel Club and has vast experience of breeding and training therapy dogs that enhance the lives of Autistic children.

Children can benefit educationally and emotionally, increase their understanding of responsibility and develop empathy and nurturing skills through contact with a dog. In addition to these benefits, children take great enjoyment from interaction with a dog. By having a dog in school we want to encourage those children specifically who are vulnerable, or those who are less confident with learning to have a friendly audience and to look forward to a challenge. Having a dog in school can encourage reluctant children to come to school. The vast majority of dogs are gentle and loving, offering children opportunities to improve social development skills, unconditional acceptance and the chance to do something really well. For some children, a dog will be a special friend, helping them to build self-esteem, relax and have fun. For others, time spent with a dog will be a reward for excellent effort with a difficult challenge.

It is accepted that interacting with animals is not appropriate for all children but that for some it has the potential to provide many positive benefits. Any parent who does not wish their child to interact with Albie is invited to inform Mrs Middlehurst, in writing, of their wishes. This risk assessment will be reviewed regularly and the impact of a school dog will be evaluated by the school senior leadership team.

Albie is still only young and he is currently undergoing intensive training in order to prepare him for school life. Albie will initially be coming into our school a few days a week to listen to children read and interact with children during the school day. As he gets older he will come in more often and become very much a part of the everyday life of the school.

Albie is so excited about being part of RL Hughes!