Sutton school welcomes 'most unusual pupil' for emotional support

A school in Sutton-in-Ashfield has recently welcomed the most unusual pupil in its 350-year history.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 5:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 2:11 pm

St Mary Magdalene Church of England Primary School has recently opened its doors to Maggie the Labradoodle, who helps with the emotional needs of pupils.

Six-month-old Maggie is still owned by her breeder Tracy Hovell, but lives with, and is cared for, by her hosts, foundation teacher Liz Foster and Sam Hovell, health and wellbeing teaching assistant at the school.

Sam said that Maggie has already had a positive impact at the school.

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He said: “Maggie comes in and helps with the emotional needs of the children, and the staff too.

“She goes outside with children for PE and encourages those who are reluctant to join in. She is non-judgemental and is always happy to see the children.

“Occasionally she is taken for walks in the playground by children with an adult should they need a break and some fresh air.

“She has transformed and energised the school, when she comes through the school doors, she just can’t wait to greet everyone.”

Sam says that it is well known that animals are effective in therapy and says Maggie’s calm and laid-back nature makes her perfect for school work. “We have both structured and not so structure times to spend with Maggie.

“One great benefit has been for children who struggle to come through the school doors in the morning. Maggie and I do a meet and greet in the playground, and any worries are quickly forgotten.

“Also, during the school day if we see a child who looks a little unhappy, they can come and spend a little time with Maggie and talk things through.

“Just knowing Maggie is there is a source of comfort, she is always there for them.”

Sam says that Maggie works in the mornings and that school life is enhanced by having her around.

He added: “The children definitely feel that way. She is having such a positive impact on children, she listens to them reading, she is a friend to everyone, and we have story time with Maggie for children who have tried hard or done well in their tasks. Everyone is striving to do well so they can have that extra time with her.”