Chester & Bracken – Our School Dogs




“Hello, my name is Chester and I’m one of the school dogs here at Highwoods Academy.

I was born on the 5th June 2016, I am 3 years old.

I’m quite young like you really and, like you, I am learning all the time.

My favourite food is cheese and I am not very good at burying things.

My full name is Harwood Sunlight and my owner is Mr Rhodes.”




“Hello, my name is Bracken.

I was born on the 11th December 2017, so I’m only 2 years old and like you, I am learning all the time.

My favourite food is apple and I am scared of pigeons.

My full name is Dune’s Delight and my owner is Mr Rhodes.”

We are both working Cocker-Spaniels, one of the UK’s most popular family pets. We are happy, active small dogs that adapt well to most lifestyles. We cockers are extremely intelligent and kind natured. We are incredibly loyal characters that show a determination and resilience when needed.

Cocker Spaniels are known to be very tolerant and patient with children of all ages.

We hope to become the School Reading Dogs and for that I will need to be well trained!!

You can find us either in The Quad, where I have a nice kennel or in Mr Rhodes’ office.”

Why have a school dog?

As a Head Teacher who firmly believes that there are many different styles of learning. I’m always looking at alternative provision in education and how I can meet the needs of different children. I started hearing about PAT dogs and the work that these dogs do in schools, hospitals, homes and other public places. I became really curious about the benefits that a dog could bring to a school and its community.
I have heard of schools that are using highly trained dogs to help teach children non-violence, empathy, respect, kindness, love, responsibility, friendship and trust. I took the plunge to endeavour on having and training a listening dog at Highwoods Primary School.

Mr Rhodes  Head Teacher

Listening / Reading Dogs

Reading dogs will be incredibly calm and happy to have an individual child read to them. Dogs give unconditional acceptance, as they are non-judgmental, which is especially crucial to struggling, emerging readers. The listening dogs also provide confidence to children as they do not make fun of them when they read, but above all they make amazing listeners, providing the children with a sense of comfort and love. Reading dogs  have proved through research that children who read to these dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and write.

Therapy Dogs

These dogs will work with children on a one-one basis and will especially help those children who have been bullied, abused, suffering with emotional issues, going through upsetting/difficult times or even scared/phobic of dogs. These dogs will bring much joy and help to all the children they meet. Children who struggle with social interaction can find a reassuring friend in a canine therapy dog.