The latest recruit at a Kidderminster school may be a little shorter than most pupils, and certainly more-hairy, but has already made a big impact on both pupils and staff.
School dog ‘Fern’ joined Holy Trinity School and Sixth Form Centre at the start of this academic year at the tender age of 3-months. Over the last 4-months she has been acclimatising to her new environment and getting to know her new friends, and although still only a puppy her natural ability to interact with children from 5-years to sixth formers has meant that she has very quickly adapted to being in school and loving the attention she receives.
Headteacher, Mrs Pamela Leek-Wright stated: “There has been an overwhelmingly positive response from all members of the school community and already the impact of having Fern in school is tangible. Regardless of age, there seems to be a need that can be fulfilled by interacting with Fern, who seems to be having a powerful impact on the emotional well-being within school.”
Although a school dog, Fern is very much part of a family and belongs to Mrs Leek-Wright, who had the idea of introducing a dog into school in the light of increasing concerns over mental health and the levels of stress that young people encounter in the modern-day education system. It has taken two years of planning, research and seeking advice to get to the reality of having a dog in school.
Added Mrs Leek-Wright: “Having enjoyed her first term, Fern is now very familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of her ‘work place’ and having settled exceptionally well she is now at an age to concentrate on specific training with her Dog Trainer so that she can start to join in classes over the coming term.”
Once fully trained, Fern will be used to support the school’s well-being programme and working alongside the school counsellor, will be a regular visitor to the school’s libraries, encouraging pupils to read to her, promoting confidence and independence in a skill that underpins all learning.