They help detect crime and prove vital partners for people with disabilities – but could dogs soon lend a helping hand in the classroom?
According to a head teacher who has just graduated from the University of Dundee, dogs could help pupils with both their academic skills and general wellbeing.
Islean Gibson, principal at Kinloch Rannoch Primary, graduated yesterday with a Masters in leading, learning and teaching.
Working with two of her P7 pupils who will be named authors on her dissertation, the entire school of 22 children agreed on a self-efficacy scale before they introduced the dogs into class.
Several months later their results showed a significant spike in confidence, overall grades and happiness among pupils.
Miss Gibson said: “We saw immediate improvements because of the introduction of the dogs.
“Pupils who were not in a good place emotionally would be given time with the dogs and they quickly became more positive in class.
“Likewise, when a student was struggling with maths, having one of the dogs sitting with them soon helped them relax and think about their problems in a new way.
“We were tremendously lucky that not one person in school had any sort of allergy or aversion to dogs. What we’ve been able to show is that, from nursery to P7, dogs are a great boost to morale and motivation in the classroom – it is something I would encourage other schools to look into.”
Thousands of new graduates from the University of Dundee have crossed the Caird Hall stage over the course of the summer graduation ceremonies this week, one of the major celebrations in the city’s calendar.
Miss Gibson graduated yesterday, surrounded by her family as well as her school pupils and their canine classmates.
She added: “Being part of this type of learning journey and being able to see that there is more to education than just school has been an eye opener for everyone in the school community.
“I hope it inspires my pupils, my staff and their families to see you can come back to education at any time.
“But most importantly this success comes from having such an amazing support network to learn with you, care for you and keep you going.
“It was only made possible by my school community and the amazing tutors at the university.”