Woody - Our School Dog

We would like to introduce you to our Woodbank Family dog. This is Woody, a Cockapoo, who will be visiting us very soon and training to become our school dog.


Woody has trained as a therapy dog and where appropriate he will be supporting pupils with their emotional well-being and reading. He will be coming to school on certain days with Mrs Macadam and he will live in her office. We are certain that he will be well loved by all the pupils and staff.

Is there a risk in bringing a dog into a school environment? Of course there is, although there are a variety of accidents which can happen within the school environment which far exceed the number of injuries or incidents caused by a dog. Therefore, it is just another risk that needs to be managed. We believe that through a rigorous risk assessment the risk can be managed by school staff. Woody will be supervised at all times by a member of staff.

Why have a school dog? The staff and Governors at Woodbank considered the options regarding the possibility of obtaining a school dog. The rationale behind this decision was as follows:

1. For the school to have a dog who can support wellbeing, mental health and education through being a reading buddy.

2. To have a dog that the children can interact with and also be of benefit to the children’s social and emotional development, their confidence and self-esteem.

Prior to purchasing Woody, we researched a number of breeders for different breeds of dogs and took advice from a variety of sources before making the final decision. The top priority for our dog has been to ensure that the temperament of the dog was suitable for interaction with children. The breeder that we got Woody from is a registered and accredited breeder with the Kennel Club. It is accepted that interacting with animals is not appropriate for all children but that for some it has the potential to provide many positive benefits. Any parent who does not wish their child to interact with Woody is to let school know by completing the attached form. Your wishes will be respected. I would like to point out that Woody is of a breed that is hypo allergenic-he does not malt his fur. He is also a very sociable dog and loves being around people.

Our risk assessment will be reviewed regularly and the impact of a school dog will be evaluated by the school senior management team on a regular basis. Children can benefit educationally and emotionally, increase their understanding of responsibility and develop empathy and nurturing skills through contact with a dog. In addition to these benefits, children take great enjoyment from interaction with a dog. The vast majority of dogs are gentle and loving, offering children opportunities to improve social development skills, unconditional acceptance and the chance to do something really well. For some children, Woody will be a special friend, helping them to build self-esteem, relax and have fun. For others, time spent with a dog will be a reward for excellent effort with a difficult challenge.

Woody will also be used as a reading dog for the children that want to read to him. Children who might be embarrassed to read aloud to the class or even adults are likely to be less scared to read to a dog. It might be less stressful for a child to read aloud to a dog than to a teacher or a peer. After all, a dog won’t judge or correct you. Dogs are used to encourage struggling readers to practise reading aloud. With the presence of a “calm and well-trained dog,” children find social support and peer interaction. Dogs prove to be incredibly calm and are happy to have children read to them or join a group of children on the school bus, whilst they are having a book reading session. Dogs give unconditional acceptance, as they are non-judgmental, which is especially crucial to struggling, emerging readers. Dogs can also provide confidence to children as they do not make fun of them when they read, but above all they make amazing listeners, providing the children with a sense of comfort and love. Research has proved that children who read to dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and write, and an increase in intra and interpersonal skills among the children they mix with.