Meet the newest pupil at Primley Wood Primary as Leeds school unveils a fluffy classmate
One of the newest starters at a Leeds primary school is already showing his new class-mates that anything is paws-ible.
Dougie the Goldendoodle, a Labrador poodle cross, has started at Primley Wood Primary School in Alwoodley as the school dog, and is already enjoying reading sessions, maths classes and particularly P.E lessons.
He belongs to Jordan License, the head of school at Primley Wood, but spends three to four days a week at school getting involved in lessons, break times and, Mr License admits - a little bit of mischief.
Dougie has just turned six months old and has been going to school since he was 13 weeks old and has made a huge impact on the children already says the headteacher who wanted a dog from a personal point of view - but was also interested to look at the benefits that a dog can bring to school.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I had the idea a while ago and we have done our research and know the benefits of having a school dog. We spoke to parents and made sure that nearly everybody was on side but a few wanted more information as not all families are dog lovers.
"At 13 weeks old we started drip feeding him into school and let him become familiar with staff, the environment and children. They needed to see him while he was a puppy and as he grows, the children grow with him. And, if they are a bit afraid of dogs they can get used to him while he is really small rather than when he is two years-old. He is such a calm and well-natured dog. His temperament is perfect to be in school."
Already in his first term Dougie is top of the class and having an impact on some children that could not have been done without him.
Mr License said: "He is still only six months old and has not been in school so long but already what an impact he is having. We had a pupil who was really nervous to return to school after the lockdown. We had a phone call with her parents and then said to her 'Dougie is in school but needs someone to show him around'. She was here within ten minutes, took his lead, walked him to class and there have been no issues since.
"Children also read to Dougie and we can use him for children that don't speak to adults, don't feel as confident, don't read at home, stutter or stammer. Reading to Dougie - he doesn't judge, have an opinion or care if you get it wrong or can't do something. He is just happy that you are there and that removes a lot of barriers for children."
While he loves to play football and chase at break times, there have been some cases where Dougie might have got a detention. Mr License was called upon to teach maths while a teacher was self-isolating and the dog had to be distracted by carrots so he wouldn't eat the pupils' lunches and he did also once urinate on a rug in the office of the executive principal.
Mr License is very aware of Dougie's welfare so makes sure he has time away from school and when he is not in class he is looked after by Mr License's mother. He is also very up front with children about how hard it can be to look after and own a dog and hopes to bring The Dogs Trust into school to speak with pupils about this.
He added: "He teaches children how to care for animals but we have to find that balance of children being able to work and not being distracted by him - but the only questions pupils ask me now are 'how is Dougie?' The children absolutely love it and will only reap more rewards from him."
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe