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Maypole Primary School in Dartford praises their furry friend Max

One school's pet dog is helping pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Maypole Primary School, in Franklin Road, Dartford, has had white cockapoo Max greeting children at the gates since last September.

The 18-month-old pup has helped the youngsters develop in a lot of ways, according to assistant head teacher Claire Hunnisett, who cares for the furry four-legged member of staff when they're not at school.

Max has been at the school since September last year.
Max has been at the school since September last year.

She said: "Max just loves being around children and they are fantastic with him. We try to involve him in as much as possible.

"When the children have their school photos taken, Max has his done as well. We organised a sponsored obstacle course event to raise money for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and Max also took on the challenge, raising his own sponsorship cash.

“Max is a great addition to the school. He has a really calming effect on the children and is used, as well, as a reward incentive for behaviour, for attendance and for the class with the best reading of the week.

"The pupils and staff really love having him here."

Assistant head teacher Claire Hunniseett with Max.
Assistant head teacher Claire Hunniseett with Max.

The children can only interact with Max once their parents or guardians have returned a form giving permission and the dog is always supervised by a member of staff and any children who are frightened of dogs are given the option of being introduced to him gradually with the aim of overcoming their fear.

He visits different classrooms throughout the school day and on his first birthday in April a special assembly held by staff and children where they sang to the playful pup.

Children who used to get upset about leaving their parents when being dropped off are now happily racing into Maypole Primary to give the cockapoo his morning treat.

The idea to have school pooch came about when a lost dog was found outside the ground and Mrs Hunnisett joked they should keep it if the owners weren't found. But the animal was later re-united with his family.

She did some research after and discovered that cockapoo's - a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle - would make a perfect school pet due to their temperament and the fact they don't shed any hair.

Head teacher, Linda Wilmann, added: “Max is so good at bringing the children in to school in the morning. They might be upset or not want to leave Mum but as soon as they see Max they cheer up and they go in with him.

“It allows children to experience what it’s like to have a pet. They have to learn how to behave around him and they know they can’t be too loud because it might frighten him.”

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