A Kirkby school has taken on a new approach to its reading times to put the fun back into literacy.
Olly Murs is a three-year-old German Shepherd, and, luckily for the children at Abbey Hill Primary and Nursery School, he likes to read.
As part of a new approach to get its pupils to improve their reading skills and do more of it Olly visits the school with owner Allison Clarke once a week.
With his ears pricked and a tentative nudge of the children’s books as they read to him, it is easy to see why Olly is Abbey Hill’s favourite guest of the week.
Owner Allison, from Rainworth, took Olly in as a rescue dog and by the time he was two he qualified as a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog. The Murs was added to his name to mark his success after the X-Factor singer.
This year he became one of a handful of dogs to start the Read 2 Dogs scheme which is run on a voluntary basis by PAT in the Mansfield and Ashfield area.
And more schools are taking an interest in Olly’s special set of skills.
Allison said: “Reading at Abbey Hill is the highlight of Olly’s week. He absolutely adores children and he’s so excited on the journey to school.
“The change in children’s reading has been staggering as they’ve grown in confidence.”
Abbey Hill Primary School has taken part in the Read 2 Dogs programme for the past six weeks and Olly has proved he is not only a star at the school.
He was named Rescue Animal Of The Year at the Animal Hero Awards 2013 for becoming a Pets As Therapy dog after his difficult background.
Kate Paley, reading recovery teacher, said Olly’s influence has also spread further than the groups of children he works with in school.
She said: “Many children who haven’t had the chance to read to Olly have been reading to their own pets at home.
“All this extra reading at home is fantastic because we know more reading mileage a child accumulates, the better at reading they become.”
Olly also helps to boost the children’s confidence and persuade those that are reluctant to read to have fun with it.
Ms Chambers, head teacher, said: “Olly has been a huge success. Children who are reluctant to read have been asking when they can read to him. He is so calm and patient with them and makes reading time lovely.”
Alison also runs a German Shepherd Rescue Elite charity from her home to re-home the breed.