Therapy dog proves a big hit with Aylesbury schoolchildren

Barkley has proved popular with pupils at Green Ridge Primary Academy in Aylesbury
Barkley has proved popular with pupils at Green Ridge Primary Academy in Aylesbury

Pupils at an Aylesbury primary school have a new companion for their learning days - therapy dog Barkley.

The seven-year-old mini Labradoodle who belongs to Green Ridge Primary Academy's assistant headteacher Nikki Mackie comes into school three days a week and is already proving a hit with pupils.

Barkley, who is a registered Pets as Therapy dog greets pupils as they enter through the school gates, giving them a boost in morale and helping them to get excited about the day ahead.

Barkley's influence doesn't stop at the school gates as he comes into classes to help out in a variety of ways.

He acts as a calming presence for the children and as a break from lessons to help clear their minds.

Sometimes used as a reward for good behaviour and work, the children are encouraged to behave themselves as they can be rewarded with the chance to meet and play with their canine companion.

Barkley also takes part in lessons, with the children learning how to take care of pets, from grooming and cleaning to the importance of dietary requirements.

The children sometimes read to Barkley to help them with reading practice, helping them to gain confidence in their own abilities before having to read aloud to their class.

Nikki says this is "particularly helpful for those students whose first language is not English."

There is of course no judgement on reading ability from Barkley so the children feel more free to read at their own pace.

The friendship is mutually beneficial as Barkley enjoys his days at school and all the fuss that's made over him.

After the day is done he gets to go home and relax after all the attention that has been lavished on him.