'Why our school dog is an invaluable asset to the learning support department'

Posted on: 28 Mar 2019
Posted by: Jane Herod

At Plymouth College, reading time for pupils has been improved no end through sessions with a different type of teacher - an Irish Setter called Katie...

Five years ago, Katie the Irish Setter joined the learning support pepartment at Plymouth College. She is part of a team that includes her owner (the head of learning support/ educational psychologist), specialist teachers and support staff. Prior to this, she was at home with her family that included children. As a puppy she attended dog school, led by a professional dog trainer, where she learnt to be calm, focused and even more fabulous around children.

Plymouth College recognised that there was a pastoral role for a dog, and because of her happy and calm temperament Katie was the obvious choice.

Over the years, many pupils have greatly benefited from spending time with Katie. She spends a lot of her time with pupils in Key Stage 3 and her job description includes supporting new pupils, boarders who may be home-sick, and pupils with emotional and social needs. Katie’s specialist areas of support are general anxiety, grief support and friendship disputes.

Katie has her own “Katie’s Lunchtime Club”, which she runs with the help of a team of sixth form volunteers. During the club, Katie enjoys a sitting with pupils and hearing their news, she is an excellent listener and a very reliable friend. She likes to watch pupils playing a range of board games in the club, especially hangman and Boggle! Katie also loves music and she particularly likes listening to Ariana Grande with the girls.

When taking a break from work, Katie enjoys her daily walk in the local park. On the days that Katie is unable to come to school, her friend Poppy the Cavalier King Charles helps out with her owner, who is also a teacher in the learning support department.

Katie is very popular and has plenty of visitors, but she has a special friendship with certain pupils who visit her daily. Many pupils find being around Katie very comforting, and her presence at Plymouth College is an invaluable asset to the learning support department.

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About Jane Herod

Jane Herod is an educational psychologist and head of study centre at Plymouth College.