Mayfield school 'extremely proud' as its labrador becomes educational assistance dog

Pupils at Skippers Hill Manor Preparatory, in Mayfield, with labrador Lottie.  Photograph: Peter Cripps/ 24-4-19 (06)
Pupils at Skippers Hill Manor Preparatory, in Mayfield, with labrador Lottie. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ 24-4-19 (06)

A school is celebrating after its chocolate labrador has become an educational assistance dog following three years of training.

Lottie, aged three, supports students at Skippers Hill Manor Preparatory, in Five Ashes, Mayfield.

Educational assistance dog Lottie, aged three, with Skippers Hill Manor Preparatory pupils. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ 24-4-19 (09)

Educational assistance dog Lottie, aged three, with Skippers Hill Manor Preparatory pupils. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ 24-4-19 (09)

She passed her final and eighth test with Devon-based charity Dogs Helping Kids, which trains and assesses dogs to act as educational and therapeutic aids in schools and colleges, on April 3.

Head teacher Mark Hammond owns Lottie with wife Sarah, the school’s registrar, and their children Josh and Lucy.

He said: “Lottie plays a huge part in school life at Skippers Hill.

“She has not only helped individual children struggling with emotional and behavioural difficulties but has also inspired reluctant readers and helped our pupils to understand how to care for and be safe around dogs.”

Labrador Lottie with pupils at the Mayfield school. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ 24-4-19 (10)

Labrador Lottie with pupils at the Mayfield school. Photograph: Peter Cripps/ 24-4-19 (10)

He added: “We are extremely proud that Lottie has passed her final assessment to become a fully certified educational assistance dog.

“I extend a huge thanks to Dogs Helping Kids for ensuring Lottie, and school dogs across the country, are highly trained and rigorously assessed to ensure that they are competent and safe to work in the educational environment.”

Lottie joined the independent school, which has 220 pupils aged from two to 13, in May 2016 as an eight-week-old puppy and she must now be assessed yearly.

She works with children in year one and above on a one-to-one basis and has four main roles – sitting with children as they read (listening canine), spending time with those who have done excellent work (reward canine), being present in a classroom during lessons (classroom canine) and supporting those having a difficult time, or who are scared of dogs (therapy canine).

Mrs Hammond, who supervises Lottie in the school, said: "She is such a dream really.

"The children love seeing her – she really boosts morale and makes it an even happier place than it is really.”

She added: "Parents are always commenting about how amazingly trained she is, asking, 'How can we get our dogs to do that?'"