Dog helps teach schoolkids new tricks

Children at East Claydon school who have sponsored Holly for Medical Detection Dogs
Children at East Claydon school who have sponsored Holly for Medical Detection Dogs

A dog trained to save lives has inspired a new way of teaching at a Bucks school which could be used around the country.

Since she was a puppy, East Claydon School and Pre-School have sponsored Labrador Retriever cross Holly Claydon, named by the children, for charity Medical Detection Dogs.

For the past 18 months Holly has been helping diabetic Alice Halstead by licking her hand when her blood sugar has got too high or low and fetching her blood sugar kit.

To make the most of the connection, the school has introduced new elements in the curriculum that relate to Holly.

This has included designing, planning and making dog accessories in DT, writing to Holly in literacy lessons and using Skype and email to communicate with the dog in ICT.

Headteacher Barry Rogers says basing the work around Holly has enthused pupils.

Mr Rogers said: “Based on the work we have written an education pack for the charity which is now out there for other schools. Three local schools have piloted the resource I have created and now hopefully others in Bucks and nationally will sponsor a dog and use it.

“Everyone here is incredibly proud of what we have developed and it’s great that our small school is leading the way in raising the profile of the charity and the many opportunities that can be created.”

Many of the children, aged two to seven, now have an intricate knowledge of how the medical dogs work. When Miss Halstead, 22, and Holly visited for the school’s sports day and summer fete pupils knew when Miss Halstead’s blood sugar was off based on the dog’s actions.

Miss Halstead said: “I’m amazed by how much they’ve taken in. I call them mini medical detection ambassadors.”