Meet Marton Primary Academy and Nursery’s latest member of staff – 13-week-old cockapoo Marty
A Blackpool school has come up with a heart-warming way to boost pupils’ confidence and wellbeing, by employing their very own therapy pet.
13-week old puppy Marty spends his days between the office and classrooms of Marton Primary in South Shore, learning to be around children, taking obedience lessons and working towards his therapy qualification.
Evening and weekends are spent with his ‘mum’, year one teacher Sue Southern, but it’s his term-time activities which are making a difference.
Marton Primary Academy and Nursery’s principal Ruth Coupe said: “There is plenty of research which shows that having a pet in a school environment is very beneficial. Our trust actively promotes positive mental health and was fully behind us. We did lots of research before settling on Marty.”
And part of that research was to ask the children if they thought having an animal in the school was appropriate.
One of the pupil learning counsellors, Rosie, then in year one, said: “If you are upset you can tell a dog, and he will always be your friend.”
Ruth added: “Our learning counsellors surveyed all the children on whether they thought a school pet was a good idea and had an overwhelming yes. They came down to a choice between two – a school dog or a school shark!”
And puppy power won out, with little Marty already proving to be a valuable team member.
“Just last week we had a year one pupil come in to school in the morning and he was very, very distressed. We took him along to the school office to meet Marty and he calmed down almost instantly, and was happy and ready to learn. That alone proved his worth.
“Marty has been a huge hit with pupils, parents and staff.”
Marty even has his own Facebook page where his fans can follow his journey.
A pup helps in many ways, not just in putting smiles on faces.
Ruth said: “We know that a dog enhances children’s self-esteem and helps reduce anxiety. A dog in the school environment really promotes children’s wellbeing and sense of worth.”
Marton Primary has a Special Education Resource Facility for children with physical difficulties, and is fully accessible to all; part of Marty’s role is to help its pupils with a sensory approach to learning, as well as their emotional development.
As well as visiting classrooms and the playground, Marty also takes part in many school activities, including their daily mile walk; not surprisingly, as the school’s youngest member he ends up being carried for most of the way, much to the children’s delight.
Marty, and other members of staff, will be available to meet prospective parents at the school’s open mornings, this Wednesday, September 27, from 9.30 to 11.30 am, and on Saturday, September 30, from 10am to noon. There’s no need to make an appointment, just pop in to say hello and find out about the school’s holistic ethos and approach to learning.
The school currently has availability from within and beyond the catchment area, for boys and girls aged three to 11.