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Carshalton High School for Girls

Carshalton High School for Girls

Carshalton High School for Girls is a highly successful school, judged by Ofsted in November 2017 as ‘Good’ in all categories.

CHSG Wellbeing Dog

We’re getting a school dog! - Meet Douglas

We will soon be adding a new member to our school community. As of September 2020, we will be welcoming a school dog who will be within the school on a regular basis to work with our students.

After careful consideration, we have chosen a springer spaniel named Douglas. Douglas will be ready to join our school community for the next academic year but will be having some training days in school this year! We have chosen this breed for the following reasons:

  • they are an intelligent working breed used by other agencies such as the police because of their ability to learn and adapt to different environments
  • they are friendly especially with children and are gentle and affectionate
  • although their coat in not non allergic, when kept trimmed it is low-shed.

Douglas will be undergoing specific training, to ensure he is well-trained for working with children. We wish to reassure parents that we have undertaken a significant amount of research into having a school dog and believe the positive effects of such demonstrably outweigh any negatives. Some of the many benefits of having a school dog include the following:

  • Cognitive development – building companionship with a dog helps children stimulate their memory, problem-solving and game-playing skills. Having a school dog is known to increase enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of animals, which motivates children to think and learn.
  • Social skills – dogs provide a mutual topic for conversation with others and encourage responsibility, wellbeing and focussed interaction with others.
  • Emotional skills – dogs improve self-esteem, acceptance from others and are known for improving moods. Dogs can also help children develop compassion and respect for other living things and can reduce children’s anxiety. Building respect can improve children’s relationships with each other, parents and teachers and shows them how to nurture and care for another living thing. If any children are suffering from bereavement or are particularly sad, dogs can provide children with comfort and friendship.
  • Physical development – interaction with dogs is known to reduce blood pressure, provide tactile stimulation, assist with pain management and give motivation for children to move and walk.
  • School community – having a school dog builds the sense of a family environment and togetherness.

During the day, Douglas will be kept in the Wellbeing Lead’s office – returning to the Wellbeing Lead’s home once the school day is over. A suitable bed, food, water and cleaning supplies will be held for Douglas, and through training he will be toilet-trained. I must stress that pupils will not be expected to clean up any dog mess and we will ensure that the school grounds are kept clean at all times.

Whenever Douglas is being walked around the school, he will have a short lead to ensure he is controlled at all times.

Students will be able to visit Douglas during break and lunch times. Once his training is complete, Douglas will be available to attend meetings, sessions with students such as Elsa and behaviour sessions as requested by the student. No student will have to come into contact with Douglas if they don’t want to.

With parental permission some students will be able to walk Douglas in the park adjoining the school with the supervision of the Wellbeing Lead or other suitable members of staff.

Students will only be able to come into contact with Douglas if parents have given permission.

Some concerns which parents may have:

My child is allergic to dogs and I don’t want them to have an allergic reaction

Although Douglas is not a breed with non-allergic fur, we have selected a breed where shed can be managed. Douglas will only be in selected areas of the school and as far as possible these will be areas with hard floors that can be easily kept fur free. If Douglas is in a specific office or room, a sign will be on the door to alert students to his presence.

We have undertaken a thorough risk assessment, which details the hygiene practices that will be in place – such as cleaning of hands and the environment before and after coming into contact with Douglas.

Will the dog be properly cared for?

Douglas will be subject to a rigorous grooming process to prevent the risk of infection or disease. Douglas will be kept in the Wellbeing Lead’s office during the day and will have adequate supply of food and water.

My child is scared of dogs

We understand that some children may be fearful of dogs. Springer spaniels are known for being extremely child-friendly and Douglas will provide the opportunity for children to overcome their fears, with their parents’ permission. The training that Douglas will undergo will ensure that he is well-behaved, gentle and calm around children. If parents would prefer for their child not to come into contact with Douglas, we will accommodate your request and ensure alternative arrangements are in place.

Is the dog well-behaved?

Douglas will shortly begin his training to ensure he is well-behaved at all times. He will be kept on a short lead whenever walking around school. Douglas will only come into contact with pupils once his training is complete and the trainer is satisfied that he can be around children safely.

Withdrawal of Consent

Parents have the opportunity to withdraw their child from contact with Douglas. A written list will be held of all students who should not come into contact with Douglas – this will be distributed to all staff members who work with Douglas.

We hope you will join us in welcoming Douglas to our school and embrace all he has to offer to our community. If you have any further questions, please contact Miss Holmes, Safeguarding Support and Wellbeing Lead on hholmes@carshaltongirls.org.uk.