Meet Willow - the dog who goes to school in Fife every day to help pupils

Glenrothes High School has taken on nurture dog to help pupils engage with the curriculum.

Willow, a Cockapoo puppy has been brought in by the South Parks school to help students who have difficulty with social skills, have suffered trauma, bereavement or PTSD – as well as those with have absence issues and unstable home lives.

Unlike other schools which have a nurture dog which may be there one day per week, Willow attends five days – and is there from from 9:00am to 3:00pm.

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Sandra Smith, nurture and learning support teacher said: “We chose Willow because of the gentle temperament Cockapoos have and that they are also hypoallergenic, meaning if any of the pupils have allergies she won’t affect them.

Sandra Smith and Lynne Watters with Willow.Sandra Smith and Lynne Watters with Willow.
Sandra Smith and Lynne Watters with Willow.

"She is brought in each day by her owner, Lynne Watters, who is also a learning support teacher, and lives in our nurture room which is like a living room that has her bed in it.

"Willow first came to the school two weeks ago and we are already seeing improved motivation from a lot of the students.

"They are helping to feed, train and care for her – it really gives the kids something to look forward to and an actual reason to come to school as some of our pupils have unstable home lives with no support network to encourage them to attend.”

Sandra said the dog was having a very positive impact.

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She added: "We have some pupils with emotional issues that can sometimes take a whole afternoon to calm them down if something has upset them. Now, with a cuddle from Willow they are calm in minutes.

"It is especially in the mornings that we are seeing a marked improvement from the pupils. Normally they are sluggish and lack motivation - now they are more engaged and a lot more confident.

"It really is amazing the change in them since Willow arrived.

"With the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 has been such a dull year for everyone, so Willow has raised the spirits of not only the students but the staff as well – the whole team benefits from her being here.”

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