Pupils at Bede’s Prep School in Eastbourne are very lucky to have gained a new member of the school family: a four-and-a-half year old certified educational assistance dog, Lottie. Unsurprisingly, Lottie the labrador has already proved very popular with pupils and staff alike.
Lottie was certified as a school assistance dog in May 2019, following three years of training with specialist dog training charity, Dogs Helping Kids. Lottie is one of only a handful of dogs in the UK trained to this high level, and will help with the children’s learning, welfare and animal behaviour awareness.
Lottie’s key role will be to provide a source of additional emotional support for pupils. ‘Lottie is very experienced in working with children and in schools,’ explains Mrs Sarah Hammond, Bede’s Prep’s new welfare officer. ‘We run one-to-one therapy sessions for children who may be going through a particularly stressful or difficult time, or for those who may struggle with social interaction. Lottie provides a calm, supportive and reassuring friend and a bit of extra support for those who need it.’
Lottie will also help to encourage pupils’ academic progress as a reading canine, and her one-to-one sessions will have a huge impact on children’s confidence in reading. ‘Lottie has been trained to rest her head on the pupil’s lap while they read and press a buzzer to signify the end of their session,’ says Mrs Hammond. ‘Lottie also reads cues on flash cards, such as ‘sit’ and ‘down’, presented to her by the pupil, giving them confidence in their own reading as they realise that Lottie is learning the skill as well. We also hope to take Lottie to classrooms and assemblies in person when we can. We have started talking through dog safety and body language in our virtual assemblies, and this knowledge of animal care and awareness is something that we will continue to build on with all pupils on an ongoing basis.’
Find Bede’s Prep’s online listing here