Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Video/Gallery: Heathcliff the reading dog who helps children at Nacton Primary School is nominated for education award

09:42 04 March 2014

Heathcliff the listening dog, who comes to an action Primary to hear the children read has been nominated for a education award. 
Head teacher Jo Kidby with some of the children that read to Heathcliff

Heathcliff the listening dog, who comes to an action Primary to hear the children read has been nominated for a education award. Head teacher Jo Kidby with some of the children that read to Heathcliff

He’s named after one of fiction’s most famous characters, but Heathcliff the dog’s involvement with literature doesn’t end there.

Heathcliff the listening dog, who visits Nacton Primary to hear the children read has been nominated for a education award. 

Pictured with GiselleHeathcliff the listening dog, who visits Nacton Primary to hear the children read has been nominated for a education award. Pictured with Giselle

The eight-year-old Shih Tzu has been nominated for a Raising The Bar Award for improving the literacy skills of children at Nacton Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School.

Heathcliff, whose owner is headteacher Joanna Kidby, has become an unofficial teaching assistant at the school by coming in once a week to listen to the pupils read.

By listening calmly and uncritically to their reading, he’s encouraged pupils’ confidence and fluency.

Now Heathcliff has been nominated for one of Suffolk County Council’s education awards in the Volunteer of the Year category, with his nominator describing him as a “forward thinker”.

Ms Kidby got the idea of having Heathcliff listen to her pupils read when The Times newspaper reported on a similar project in the USA.

“He’s very calm and great with children and I thought we’d give it a go,” she said. “He comes in once a week and the teachers used it as a trial, but it was so good that we kept it going.”

Heathcliff has now been lending his assistance at Nacton Primary School for a year and has become something of an institution.

Ms Kidby said: “They just sit and read and because he doesn’t comment or interrupt them their confidence and fluency improves. Their reading has just shot up.

“We have had the most fantastic results. One child moved up 27 reading months in just two terms.”

It isn’t only literacy skills that have improved through Heathcliff’s efforts, children who were nervous of animals previously are now growing in confidence.

“The children have developed their skills with animals,” she said, “It’s surprised me that they know what to do now and how to talk to the dog.

“We have seen a marked improvement in the children who wouldn’t go near an animal before and now they’re petting him and walking him.”

Heathcliff certainly isn’t averse to the attention his new role has garnered.

“I think he loves it because when they finish reading they give him a treat and a high five and he holds his paw up for them,” said Ms Kidby.

Now some of the pupils at Nacton Primary School have brought the exercise home with them, helping to make Ipswich’s pets among the most learned in the UK.

“We’ve parents saying their child goes home and reads to the cat and I think someone is reading to their goldfish, and that’s great for me because I’m encouraging reading at home and they’re doing it for fun, parents haven’t asked children to do it.”

0 comments

A judge has said

A judge has warned of the dangers of “vulnerable and impressionable” people watching films or playing video games depicting gang violence and rape after sentencing a Colchester man who planned to tie up a woman and have sex with her after playing Grand Theft Auto.

(left to right) Acting Chief Superintendent Kim Warner of Suffolk Police speaks alongside mother of missing 23-year-old Corrie McKeague, Nicola Urquhart and his brothers Darroch and Makeyan McKeague, during a press conference  at Bury St Edmunds Police Station in Suffolk, as police are investigating the disappearance of the RAF serviceman, who has been missing for more than a week amid fears he may have been kidnapped. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 3, 2016. See PA story POLICE McKeague. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The police hunt for missing RAF gunner Corrie McKeague has been labelled “incompetent” by his mother, as an online campaign has raised more than £15,000 to hire a private investigator.

File picture of Essex Police officers carrying out a drug warrant.

Drug paraphernalia and plant growing equipment were seized from a house in Essex.

East Bergholt village centre.

Residents living in a picturesque village in the heart of Constable country have taken their battle to block a development they believe will be a blot on the landscape made famous by the artist to London’s High Court.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer speaks in the House of Commons, London

MPs signalled they would back Theresa May’s timetable to leave the European Union after a last minute concession that she would publish her plan for Brexit first.

File picture of a police road closed sign.

There were long delays in Braintree tonight due to a crash.

The crash happened in Sudbury.

A group of people ran away from the scene of a four-vehicle crash in Sudbury today.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View
HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24