Gainsborough primary school has its own learning support dog

A Gainsborough school has a special four legged visitor to help the children with their learning.
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Castle Wood Academy welcomed Margo as a learning support dog to help the pupils with their anxiety and to help them feel calmer.

Margo belongs to headteacher, Gary Brown who started bringing her in when she was six months old.

Mr Brown said: “To begin with she just sat in my office and walked round school with me as it was important to get her used to the sounds and smells of the building.

Margo listens to the children readMargo listens to the children read
Margo listens to the children read

"I put a stair gate in my office door, so she has a ‘safe place’ to be away from the children, as it was important to think about Margo’s wellbeing as well as the children’s.

"I would take her to stand with me on the gates every morning and at the end of the day, and gradually, over time she has got very used to being a round large groups of children.

"To begin with the children did mob her a bit, but after a while they got used to her and now when Margo goes into a classroom the children usually just get on with their work.”

Margo regularly visits classrooms and spends time in there while the children do their work.

She listens to individual children read, and sometimes children just visit her if they are feeling anxious or worried about something.

The school invite the Dogs Trust every year to run assemblies and workshops for the children about how to be safe around dogs they don’t know and over time the children have learnt that they can only spend time with Margo if they are calm, and can keep her safe.

Mr Brown said: “The impact has been hard to measure but clear for all to see.

"Some of our children have tough, disorganised lives and seeing and spending time with Margo means they feel calmer and more ready to access their learning.

"Children who might have been reluctant to read are highly motivated to read with and to Margo.

"One child has recently made three years progress in his reading over the last 18 months. A large part of his accelerated progress is down to his increased motivation to read to and for Margo.

“It's been such a positive thing for our school I would heartily recommend it to anyone.”

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