STUDENTS will no longer be reading paw-ly after the introduction of a four-legged teaching assistant.

Ralph the cockapoo is the newest recruit at Patcham High School in Brighton and attends classes every day to help students with their learning, reading and behaviour.

The loveable pooch belongs to head of Year 9 Candice Bocking, but will spend most of his day with the youngsters at the school.

Tutor Laura Sourbutts said: “Extensive research has proved that keeping dogs has countless benefits including promoting positive self-esteem, developing a sense of identity, providing emotional support, developing a sense of empathy whilst overall having a calming effect.

“He is an integral part of the team and students ensure that they come in early to be able to see him before lessons begin.

“Ralph also has one-to-one time with students and takes part in small group work.

“He has helped children who are going through upsetting times in their life and I have witnessed other students say ‘Shh - you will scare Ralph’ which ultimately has an impact on learning and teaching.

“A Year 8 student took it upon herself to start a “keep the school clean for Ralph” campaign, creating posters and targeting students in assembly to make the world a better place for everyone.”

The initiative stemmed as a result of teachers at Patcham reading about the successes of a similar venture at a school in Essex where Flossie the Cockapoo has helped with learning.

Miss Sourbutts said: “Ralph has enriched the lives of so many staff and students since he has been at Patcham High.

“He has had a remarkable effect on the behaviour of students around him and instils a calm atmosphere.

“Both staff and students love seeing him. Social interaction has increased and the strong sense of community and passion is paramount.”