Tame Teasel is leading Stevenage pupils towards reading confidence

Hadely Saunders, 10.

Hadely Saunders, 10. - Credit: Archant

Pupils at a Stevenage school who have ADHD and autism are helping gain confidence and improve their reading thanks to a 14-month-old black Labrador called Teasel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR8qeGUW1MY&t=162s

The puppy – which the children at St Nicholas Church of England Primary School adore – is in the early phase of its training under a scheme run by the Dogs Helping Kids charity.

It’s an organisation which trains dogs to help teach children values including non-violence, empathy, respect, kindness, love, responsibility, friendship and trust.

He sits obediently and listens to the pupils as they read, even looking at the pictures with them and helping them feel more confident.

The school’s vice chair of governors saw a reading dog in action and thought it was a great idea, so headteacher Sarah Stevens bought Teasel with a view to him being trained by the charity.

Toby Tanswell, 11, reading with Teasel.

Toby Tanswell, 11, reading with Teasel. - Credit: Archant


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She told the Comet: “Teasel’s made a huge difference. So far he has worked with a group of five children to improve their reading and self-esteem and definitely the results show that all the children have improved greatly. Children who have previously never spoken in class or spoken in group work have done so in front of whole groups of children for the first time, which is incredible.

“Something that was quite remarkable to me was that these children are now discussing their conditions much more openly than before and other children in the school have learnt a lot more about ADHD and autism.”

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Hadley Saunders, 10, said: “When I used to read with my classmates they would point out the words I got wrong and that would be difficult, but Teasel doesn’t make a fuss when I get a word wrong and I know that neither do any of my work mates, so I know I have time to read the book when I’m working with them.”

Eleanor Isted, 11, said: “He’s helped me with my reading and he also likes to lick my hand because he can smell my sandwiches.”

St Nicholas pupils Eva Botras, 10, Hadley Saunders, 10, Nathan Thompson, 10, Eleanor Isted, 11 and T

St Nicholas pupils Eva Botras, 10, Hadley Saunders, 10, Nathan Thompson, 10, Eleanor Isted, 11 and Toby Tanswell, 11 with Teasel. - Credit: Archant

Ten-year-old Eva Botras added: “Before I didn’t have that many friends, but working with Teasel has helped me get more friends and also I was really scared of dogs but working with Teasel has made me more confident.”

Teasel will go on to complete four years of training to become a fully fledged educational dog.

Mrs Stevens is conducting the work with Teasel as part of a masters degree she is completing with the University of Hertfordshire.

Fore more about Dogs Helping Kids, visit www.dogshelpingkids.co.uk.

Eva Botras, 10, reading with Teasel.

Eva Botras, 10, reading with Teasel. - Credit: Archant

Eleanor Isted, 11 reading with Teasel.

Eleanor Isted, 11 reading with Teasel. - Credit: Archant

St Nicholas pupils Eva Botras, 10, Hadley Saunders, 10, Nathan Thompson, 10, Eleanor Isted, 11 and T

St Nicholas pupils Eva Botras, 10, Hadley Saunders, 10, Nathan Thompson, 10, Eleanor Isted, 11 and Toby Tanswell, 11. - Credit: Archant

St Nicholas pupils Eva Botras, 10, Hadley Saunders, 10, Nathan Thompson, 10, Eleanor Isted, 11 and T

St Nicholas pupils Eva Botras, 10, Hadley Saunders, 10, Nathan Thompson, 10, Eleanor Isted, 11 and Toby Tanswell, 11. - Credit: Archant

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