Paddington helps children learn to read
A dog is helping children at a Stevenage primary school to discover the joy of reading.
Paddington, a five-year-old Utonagan, has been an official school dog since he was a puppy, and he joined the team at Martins Wood Primary School last year.
One of his roles is to support early readers. Zoë Phillips, Executive Headteacher at Martins Wood, explains: “Some of our children who are reluctant to read with an adult are very happy to open a book and read for Paddington. He really enjoys being read to and likes to gently put his nose on the book to encourage the children.
“Reading takes time and regular practice to become accomplished and reading with Paddington helps children to grow in confidence and develop a love for books, especially our pupils in Early Years and with special educational needs.”
When he’s off duty, Paddington lives with Zoë and has regular sessions with specialist dog trainers to ensure he is happy in his role. He started his school career at Round Diamond Primary School and now divides his time between the two. Both schools are part of Ivy Learning Trust.
Zoë says: “We like to say that Paddington joined us as a pre-schooler and now he’s in Year 5. He’s naturally happy in a school environment and he loves spending time with the children. He goes into classes and teaches pupils about safety around dogs and he has weekly training sessions which the children enjoy taking part in.
Zoë adds: “Paddington supports some of our more anxious children as well as pupils with special educational needs. A few, quiet minutes with him is very calming, especially during transition times of the day which some children can find challenging, and this can make a real difference to their wellbeing.
“He’s also a great reward for good behaviour and the children are always excited when they are given some Paddington time. Paddington is very popular and gets attention wherever he goes. He has lots of tricks, including waving at pupils as they pass.”