Canine star is a real teacher's pet

Shuttleworth College's pet pooch Jessie with Year 7 pupil Faith Simpson
Shuttleworth College's pet pooch Jessie with Year 7 pupil Faith Simpson

When it comes to teaching reading skills one Burnley school is blazing a trail - or should that be tail?

For Shuttleworth College headteacher’s pet pooch Jessie is helping students with their reading lessons in the classroom.

Research has found that students who need help reading find practicing on pets boosts their confidence.

And so Jessie, whose owner is head Ruth England, is on hand to help those Shuttleworth students who want to increase their literacy.

“I had already read about how beneficial reading to dogs can be in a Bark and Reading Programme, run by the Kennel Club,” said Shuttleworth’s Lead Practitioner for English and Literacy Rebecca Roach.

“Students can feel pressured or anxious when reading aloud generally and have much more confidence when reading to a pet because it alleviates their fear of being corrected.

“Dogs can also be a very calming influence and are non-judgemental and attentive."

Jessie started being a professional pooch when she came into school for rehearsals as she starred in the school’s production of Annie.

She had plenty of spare time in between her ‘role’ and so she was put to other use – and it was so beneficial she now comes in regularly to help out.

“I’ve arranged for less confident students in Years 7, 8 and 9 to read independently to Jessie on a rota using books they have chosen themselves as part of the successful newly-introduced Accelerated Reader Programme,” said Ms Roach.

“We can see progress across Years 7 and 8 after implementing the Accelerated Reader this academic year. Jessie seems to love the attention as well!”