Pooch Bertie helps pupils improve their reading skills

Bertie Button of Manor Field School, Burgess Hill with Samuel

Bertie Button of Manor Field School, Burgess Hill with Samuel

First published in News
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Meet Bertie Button – the hound-some teacher who is carrying out im-paw-tant work in helping children improve their reading skills.

Tail-ented teacher Bertie is helping primary school pupils improve their reading, writing and arith-mutt-tic in his first year of teaching.

Manor Field Primary School in Burgess Hill are believed to be the first school in Sussex to benefit from a permanent resident canine in the classroom.

The pedagogic pedigree was paid for out of her own pocket by headteacher Kit Messenger and goes home with his boss every night.

Mrs Messenger said she was inspired to take up the idea after reading a research article about the positive impact that dogs had in the classroom.

During the last summer holiday, the headteacher drove to Barnstaple in Devon to go and collect the latest addition to the school teaching staff.

He started last summer, even coming in during the school holidays to get accustomed to the premises, and after completing the various health and safety requirements started work in September. Bertie is a cross between a shih tzu and a poodle – a specially chosen hypoallergenic and non-shedding breed of dog to ensure none of the pupils have a negative reaction to his presence.

In total, it will take Bertie a full 18 months to finish his training but the school is already reaping the benefits from his appointment.

Bertie is being used to inspire children’s writing, give them support for their reading, as a reward for good behaviour or outstanding work and helping to teach responsibilities with children walking, grooming, playing and training him.

As well as benefitting pupils, Bertie has also been a big help for one member of staff who was once too scared to be in the room with any dogs.

Mrs Messenger said: “Children have written him into stories, they love writing about the adventures of Bertie Button.

“Children who are less confident can read to Bertie and we use him as a reward if children have done well.

“The children love him, in April he received 250 birthday cards from pupils.

“He lives at home with me and I finance all of it.

“There is quite a bit of research to show that dogs are beneficial but I didn’t want to waste school funds if it turned out he had no effect on the children’s learning.”

Comments (11)

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8:10am Mon 21 Jul 14

chrismilo says...

Bertie can probably read better than most teachers and not always on strike !
Bertie can probably read better than most teachers and not always on strike ! chrismilo
  • Score: -5

9:17am Mon 21 Jul 14

taticakes says...

Of course, it was a teacher that trained Bertie in the first place. Well done for such a creative initiative!
Of course, it was a teacher that trained Bertie in the first place. Well done for such a creative initiative! taticakes
  • Score: 11

9:21am Mon 21 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

This is a spoof report, right?
This is a spoof report, right? stevo!!
  • Score: -19

9:33am Mon 21 Jul 14

AndyMed says...

Great story, but how sadly typical of some Argus readers that they use it as the excuse to post teacher-bashing comments.

(AndyM)
Great story, but how sadly typical of some Argus readers that they use it as the excuse to post teacher-bashing comments. (AndyM) AndyMed
  • Score: 11

9:45am Mon 21 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

taticakes wrote:
Of course, it was a teacher that trained Bertie in the first place. Well done for such a creative initiative!
We had a Mr Barker when I was at school......
[quote][p][bold]taticakes[/bold] wrote: Of course, it was a teacher that trained Bertie in the first place. Well done for such a creative initiative![/p][/quote]We had a Mr Barker when I was at school...... stevo!!
  • Score: 4

11:55am Mon 21 Jul 14

Quiterie says...

Excellent initiative. They also have a dog at Patcham High School. As the article says there is a lot of research about the positive impact that dogs have in schools. Great stuff.
Excellent initiative. They also have a dog at Patcham High School. As the article says there is a lot of research about the positive impact that dogs have in schools. Great stuff. Quiterie
  • Score: 10

12:03pm Mon 21 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

"The pedagogic pedigree ....."

Surely (in the spirit of the opening lines) it should have been 'pe-dog-ogic'?
"The pedagogic pedigree ....." Surely (in the spirit of the opening lines) it should have been 'pe-dog-ogic'? stevo!!
  • Score: -8

4:49pm Mon 21 Jul 14

tabman says...

Patcham High have Ralph the cockerpoo.
Patcham High have Ralph the cockerpoo. tabman
  • Score: 6

9:01pm Mon 21 Jul 14

JeevesMcMontague says...

Oh dear. I fear for our children if we are resorting to using a dog to teach them. Is this a joke?

Sounds like Mrs Messenger needs someone to look after her mutt during the day and this is her hairbrained solution.
Oh dear. I fear for our children if we are resorting to using a dog to teach them. Is this a joke? Sounds like Mrs Messenger needs someone to look after her mutt during the day and this is her hairbrained solution. JeevesMcMontague
  • Score: -11

10:03pm Mon 21 Jul 14

Quiterie says...

JeevesMcMontague wrote:
Oh dear. I fear for our children if we are resorting to using a dog to teach them. Is this a joke?

Sounds like Mrs Messenger needs someone to look after her mutt during the day and this is her hairbrained solution.
No joke my friend. As the article says there has been a lot of research on this. Just google it if you don't believe me. Well done to the innovative headteachers who are leading the way on this. Especially as there will always be a few ignorant people who treat it as a joke.
[quote][p][bold]JeevesMcMontague[/bold] wrote: Oh dear. I fear for our children if we are resorting to using a dog to teach them. Is this a joke? Sounds like Mrs Messenger needs someone to look after her mutt during the day and this is her hairbrained solution.[/p][/quote]No joke my friend. As the article says there has been a lot of research on this. Just google it if you don't believe me. Well done to the innovative headteachers who are leading the way on this. Especially as there will always be a few ignorant people who treat it as a joke. Quiterie
  • Score: 7

11:10pm Mon 21 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

JeevesMcMontague wrote:
Oh dear. I fear for our children if we are resorting to using a dog to teach them. Is this a joke?

Sounds like Mrs Messenger needs someone to look after her mutt during the day and this is her hairbrained solution.
No, the dog isn't teaching, although it's probably a lot more intelligent than many of The Blob.

Apparently it's there because pupils wish to impress it with their reading/writing skills, which is lovely.
[quote][p][bold]JeevesMcMontague[/bold] wrote: Oh dear. I fear for our children if we are resorting to using a dog to teach them. Is this a joke? Sounds like Mrs Messenger needs someone to look after her mutt during the day and this is her hairbrained solution.[/p][/quote]No, the dog isn't teaching, although it's probably a lot more intelligent than many of The Blob. Apparently it's there because pupils wish to impress it with their reading/writing skills, which is lovely. stevo!!
  • Score: -2

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