In Impact Stories, Life skills, education & employability, Aylesbury Vale

Project: School dog at Stocklake Park School
Grant: £4,500
Fund: Kop Hill Climb

The School Dog Project provides Animal Assisted Education for disadvantaged students at Stocklake Park School. The school dog handler and dog team support referred students to achieve personal objectives such as: safety in the community, personal care, confidence, responsibility, communication skills and social skills through one-to-one and group sessions based in school and the local community.

The School Dog Project has been running for over three years and in that time Make a Special Kid Smile have seen many benefits and evidence that the project is supporting students’ learning, wellbeing, therapy and community outcomes.

This grant specifically contributed to the staff costs of the expert school dog handler who works full time in the school with the dog and the students.

Case study: wellbeing

The school dog, called Patience, worked with a group of three KS3 students to develop their understanding of the steps involved in cleaning their teeth and brushing and washing their hair, in turn helping to support the development of independence in these personal care activities.

The students took part in weekly, 30 minute sessions with Patience involving the following activities:

  • Identifying a variety of equipment and how it is used when looking after Patience’s physical wellbeing.
  • Learning the steps involved in using the equipment and how to recognise when it is needed.
  • Transferring these skills to identify when the students need to clean their own teeth or brush/wash their hair and apply these steps independently.

Once the sessions were complete, all three students could identify the equipment needed and the steps to cleaning their teeth and brushing and washing their hair independently.

Case study: responsibility

Patience worked one-to-one with a student called Tom to help his attention and concentration. Tom was given responsibilities that focused on the day to day care of Patience such as:

  • Weighing out Patience’s daily food allowance and filling up her water bowl in the morning
  • Assisting with Patience’s daily walks once a week, holding a second lead attached to her harness and training her to stop at the curbs and to come when called in the park.

As a result of the intervention, Tom showed an increase in his focus on the activity in hand, concentrating more as he had to think about Patience’s needs and safety. He also had an increased awareness of other people’s emotions and could assess how Patience was feeling and what she would like to do on a particular day.