More schools get help from reading dogs

Katy Morton
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reading dogs are stretching their influence to schools in Kent with the expansion of a unique project to encourage children who are reluctant to read out loud.

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs scheme (READ) brings retired greyhounds into schools to help children relax by reading in front of them. Currently used in settings in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, it is to be piloted in two schools in Kent from September, with plans to roll it out to all primaries in the county next year.

Kent County Council has said that if the project is successful, it will be considered for use in libraries as well.

The scheme was launched two years ago and is based on an American programme that uses therapy dogs to improve children's reading and communication skills (News, 20 May 2009).

Tony Nevett, his 15-month-old greyhound Danny, and colleague Kelly Bakewell and her dog Batman visit schools and libraries to boost children's confidence in reading.

The pair also want to extend the scheme to children's centres.

Last week they visited 10 Downing Street to give Prime Minister David Cameron information about READ. They have also written to education secretary Michael Gove.

Mr Nevett said, 'Downing Street said that the programme was a really good idea, but we are still waiting to hear back from Mr Gove.'

'We want to try to roll out the scheme across the whole of the UK in the next couple of years.However, to do this we need more READ volunteers.'

They are appealing to owners of retired greyhounds to get involved in the READ scheme.

Further information

www.therapyanimals.org

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