There’s a new member of staff at Bright Futures Educational Trust – and this one has four legs.
Cilla has joined the northwest trust as a Therapy Dog. A four-year old pug who has already worked as a care dog, she is just about to complete a final eight-week dog therapy training course, and will then be joining the students on a daily basis.
Her role will involve working with SEN children, listening to reading and supporting the schools’ mindfulness sessions. She will also be integrated into other aspects of the curriculum during lunchtime activities.
Based at Blackpool’s South Shore Academy, Cilla will split her time across the trust’s eight schools. Jane Bailey, principal at South Shore, comments: “Studies have proved that the patient and loving nature of trained therapy dogs can have a real impact on children’s self confidence – and in a school setting, this is invaluable.”
A recent study by the University of California found a 12% boost in reading proficiency when children read aloud to dogs every week, while another study at the University of Pennsylvania found therapy dogs can raise literacy by at least two levels. The UK organisation Pets as Therapy estimates that more than 6,000 children a week benefit from therapy dogs – and this is on the rise in schools, helping the wellbeing of students and staff alike.
“It’s recognised as being really beneficial in schools,” adds Jane. “The calming, attentive presence of a dog can really encourage children to open up and enjoy lessons by helping to reduce pressure.
“We make every effort to share best practice and resources at Bright Futures. Cilla is a living, breathing example of that: she has settled in well at South Shore and will soon be helping children all over the Northwest.”
Cilla is named after Cilla Black as she is black all over.