A thrill of excitement filled the air at Featherby Infant and Junior Schools, Gillingham, Kent this week when Milo, an adorable six-month-old Cavapoo, officially took up his post at the school. Milo is a fluffy white King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and Toy Poodle cross whose jobs include embedding a lifelong love of reading in pupils by sitting attentively and listening to them read and improving their wellbeing by calming them down with cuddles and games. When Milo is nine months old he will officially qualify as a therapy dog.
Featherby Junior School is a vibrant community school for pupils aged 7-11 based in Gillingham, Kent, and forms part of the Maritime Academy Trust. Neighbouring Featherby Infant & Nursery School for pupils aged 3-7 is also part of the Trust. Dedicated to nurturing each child’s creativity and individuality, both schools provide an inspiring and motivating curriculum that encourages pupils to achieve high outcomes, and develop a lifelong love of learning and a strong sense of community that will help them prepare for their future lives.
Research studies show having a dog in a classroom teaches pupils responsibility, raises self-esteem, lowers levels of anxiety and stress and creates closer links between the school community. Academics report that pupils who interact with animals feel more empathy for others. This research prompted Amy Massey, Headteacher across both the Infant and Junior schools, to introduce cavapoo puppy Milo in order to further improve pupils’ behaviour, social development and academic skills.
Milo’s impact on the schools and their pupils is already being felt. His conscientious, non-judgmental listening skills help children who find it difficult to read aloud. Attendance and punctuality has also improved with parents reporting that children are now keen to get to school early so they can play with him before the bell rings! He has also been instrumental in calming children with Special Educational Needs when they find the classroom overwhelming. Playing fetch – one of Milo’s favourite games – is used as a reward for positive behaviour for all pupils.
Amy Massey, Headteacher at Featherby Infants and Juniors, commented, “I am delighted by the positive impact Milo has had in such a short space of time; the children are excited to see him every day and he has been welcomed by the whole community! In 2018, 69% of pupils achieved expected standard in reading, writing and maths for their KS2 SATs – 5% higher than the national average. Milo will play a key role helping us to stay on an upward trajectory!”
Annice, Year 6 pupil, said “Milo has boosted happiness by being here and helping students. It brings joy to me to know the school is in good hands - or paws!” Macy in Year 1 added “He is so soft. We play fetch. He makes me feel happy.”
Featherby is currently open for admissions and is hosting Open Days on the following dates:
2 pm, Tuesday 29th October 2019
9.30 pm, Friday 8th November 2019