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Oddly enough - As ideas go, it's a howler

In one of its more eccentric moments, Voice, formerly the Professional Association of Teachers, supported a motion at a conference some years back to employ dogs as classroom assistants.

One member explained that our four-legged friends could help round up pupils in the playground and raise the alarm when a child was injured. Sadly, the idea has never really taken off. At least not here.

In America, however, pupils at Liberty Elementary in North Ridgeville, Ohio, are looking forward to the imminent arrival of their own "therapy dog".

According to the local Chronicle-Telegram newspaper, they are a growing phenomenon.

Gretchen Herzberger, a teacher at the school, told the paper that dogs could greatly improve morale and academic performance.

"It's a good incentive for the kids. We use it for positive reinforcement and a rewards system," she said.

The dogs are apparently also helpful in pupil counselling sessions. "Kids can often talk to a dog when they can't talk to anyone else," Ms Herzberger said.

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