Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 10°C

Search

Ipswich: A novel idea or just barking mad? Pupils hone their literacy skills – by reading to a dog!

11:18 29 November 2012

Heathcliff the Reading Dog helps pupils out at Nacton Primary School. Izzie reads to Heathcliff

Heathcliff the Reading Dog helps pupils out at Nacton Primary School. Izzie reads to Heathcliff

Archant

WHEN children read to him, Heathcliff does not criticise or correct their pronunciation. Instead he occasionally pricks up his ear and lifts his paw in appreciation.

Seven-year-old pet pooch Heathcliff dons his school uniform to make a weekly visit to Nacton Village Primary School to enjoy story-time with pupils.

The Shih Tzu was brought into school in October after research revealed that children who read to a dog improve their reading age by more than a year in under eight months.

Selected pupils in years one and two are left on cloud ca-nine after reading a choice of fiction and non-fiction books to Heathcliff every Monday.

The youngsters also walk him on the field and play with him to develop their confidence and promote self-esteem.

Headteacher Jo Kidby, who joined the school in September, said: “The idea is that the child reads to the dog and an accompanying adult, and the child gains reading confidence because they are not told they are incorrect at any point.

“We have noticed an increase of children reading at home for enjoyment and children starting to self-correct their mistakes independently.

“The children also love the fact that a dog comes into schools and is there to help with the learning.

“It supports the idea that learning is an on-going experience, not just restricted to the classroom.”

According to Miss Kidby, Heathcliff sits and listens to the stories before putting his paw up when the children are finished and is rewarded with a pat on the head.

The idea is supported by the Kennel Club and is being trialled by around 100 primary schools in the UK after success in the US.

Miss Kidby, who owns Heathcliff, said the children’s progress would be assessed at the end of the term.

“I expect to see an improvement but it’s quite an experimental programme,” she added.

“We have had a huge amount of enthusiasm in school and children are keen to read outside of schools according to their parents, while teachers have noticed a difference in school.”

If the scheme is a success, Miss Kidby hopes to extend it.

She said: “It’s a bit of a brave step to be honest because I have only been in post since September but it seems to be paying off so far.

“I’m very happy to give anything a go if it helps improve children’s learning.

“I have had much interest from other headteachers who have asked to ‘borrow’ Heathcliff.”

n What do you think of the initiative? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or alternatively e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk

0 comments

Dean Stansby pictured with his former partner Haley Phair and their son Rocky, five. Picture: Brendan Taylor at Taylor Made Portraits

The heartbroken family of a father-of-five who was killed near Ipswich railway station have paid tribute to him.

Reported stabbing on Virginia Street in Ipswich. Picture: Staff

A man in his early 40s is in hospital tonight after he was stabbed in Ipswich.

Lola, a pet cat from Ipswich who has had her ears cut off. Picture: RSPCA

Police and the RSPCA are urging residents to come forward after a cat was found near her home with both ears cut.

Launch of Suffolk Armed Forces Weekend at Felixstowe - members of the team orgainsing the event gathered on the seafront after a meeting to look at the latest programme for the event being staged on June 24-25

A Suffolk seaside town is to hold a double celebration with a military theme this summer – a two-day spectacle of music, battle re-enactments, food and fireworks for all ages to enjoy.

Elvis Fair leaving Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: Archant

A Suffolk hairdressing salon owner gave hundreds of pounds to an alleged conman she met on a dating website after he offered to help her with her financial affairs, a court has heard.

Peter and Sylvia Stuart. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

Fingerprints taken from a man arrested on suspicion of murdering Weybread couple Peter and Sylvia Stuart were found on a car which had the couple’s DNA in it, it has been alleged.

Sidegate Lane in Ipswich

A teenage boy was knocked over by a car in Ipswich today and suffered a minor head injury.

Baroness Murphy of Aldgate

An East Anglian peer has warned advocates of a second European Union referendum that they are “playing with fire”.

Comic Relief's big red nose spent Tuesday 
February 21 visiting Ipswich. The big red
 nose started his journey at Broke Hall Primary
 School before   taking  in all the sites of the town and
 even got into Portman Road, home of Ipswich Town Football Club.

Adults and youngsters across Ipswich have been showing their support for next month’s Red Nose Day, as Comic Relief’s DJ Boogie made a special visit.

Beacon House, in Ipswich, where the inquest took place.

A 21-year-old woman who collapsed at a mental health hospital in Suffolk died of natural causes, an inquest has ruled.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24