10th November 2006 at 00:00
When eccentric members of an English teachers' union suggested dogs would make good classroom assistants, the idea was met with giggles.

But there has been no such cynicism in Ontario, Canada, where schools are employing dogs as reading coaches. Canines taking part in the scheme include Chelsea, a 12-year-old registered therapy dog, who has been working with pupils at South Hull school near Ottawa.

The half-Spaniel, half-Sheltie sits patiently on the floor with pupils, resting her head on their lap as they read. Chelsea is accompanied by Chantel Moore, her handler and fellow reading coach.

"Reading to a dog might at first sound unusual," Ms Moore said. "But it gets children involved in reading because it takes pressure off the child and puts it onto the dog. The child believes that he or she is helping the dog understand the story. The child is motivated to find books they want to read, some even say they are looking for books the dog would like."

When pupils mispronounce words, Ms Moore asks the dog if she knows it.

Chelsea has never replied but this gives pupils a chance to try teaching the dog.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now