Teacher’s pet is the most popular member of the class

Gislingham Primary School have introduced a puppy to help children interact and improve their readin

Gislingham Primary School have introduced a puppy to help children interact and improve their reading skills. Headteacher Julie Welham with Tilly. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Meet Tilly, the newest arrival walking the corridors and joining youngsters in the classroom at a north Suffolk school.

Gislingham Primary School have introduced a puppy to help children interact and improve their readin

Gislingham Primary School have introduced a puppy to help children interact and improve their reading skills. Headteacher Julie Welham with Tilly. - Credit: Gregg Brown

The eight-week-old Lagotto Romangnolo has been welcomed by excited pupils and staff alike at Gislingham Primary School, near Diss.

The dog, owned by headteacher Julie Wenham, will be in school every day as part of a scheme to boost confidence in children and provide a calming influence when needed.

Children will be reading with Tilly and she will also be around in lesson time.

Mrs Wenham said: 'They're very relaxed when they read with her. It's a nurturing thing for children too.'


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Tilly has been brought in after the school used volunteers and their dogs from charity Pets as Therapy for an hour or so a week with staff immediately seeing the benefits.

The idea was initially put forward by some pupils and after consideration it was then put to the governors and the rest of the school – who were unanimous in their support for it.

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The breed was selected because of its mild temperament and the fact they are very good with children. It is also suitable for children with allergies, Mrs Wenham said.

Despite Tilly only being eight-weeks-old, Mrs Wenham was keen to get her into the school as soon possible to help get her used to the environment before the summer holidays.

'Everyone is taking it in their stride,' Mrs Wenham said, and she added Tilly was loving all the attention. Dogs are known to have a calming influence on children and it reduces stress and improves self-esteem and encourages participation in children.

'We don't want a child to grow up to be nervous of animals. As soon as children come in the dog is there and it feels like home to her.'

So the children could prepare for their new classmate, a letter was also 'sent from Tilly' to pupils to let them know about her impending arrival.

And despite only being at the school since Monday, she is already comfortable in her surroundings, laying under the tables while children get on with their work.

Mr Wenham said: 'They are very excited, but they know not to get her too excited and know how to act around her. She's wandering around and she's already loving it.'

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