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School’s new member of staff is turning heads!

A new staff member at a Staffordshire school has been turning heads wherever he goes and winning the hearts of everyone he meets.

Meet Rufus – The Hart School’s newly appointed therapy dog ‘in-training’.

Always looking dapper, sporting a special puppy version of the school’s tie, the adorable five-month-old cavapoo has already won the hearts of staff and pupils at the Penkridge Bank Road school, which sits on the edge of Cannock Chase.

The cute pup is still familiarising himself with his new academic surroundings, but once his therapy dog training is complete, he’s set to be a valuable addition to the school’s team.

That’s because Rufus, who was funded by the school, will be recruited to help young pupils develop their skills across a range of academic, personal and social areas.

The Hart School Principal Ms Rachael Sandham, pictured centre with pupils above, said: “Seeing the way that students, staff and even visitors react to Rufus, makes it clear that we’ve made a good decision which will help and support the success of our young people.”

Reaction to Rufus is “amazing”

Five-month-old cavapoo Rufus, The Hart School’s new therapy dog

Assistant Principal Mr Ben Brennan, who is also head of Sixth Form, said: “Therapy dogs have very special places in the schools that take the time to invest in training one and our Rufus has so much to offer.

“Once his specialist therapy dog training is complete, Rufus will be able to teach empathy as well as appropriate interpersonal skills, help individuals develop social skills, be soothing, and also help to improve an individual’s skills to pick up on social cues that are imperative to human relationships.

“He will spend time with students with a variety of different needs – from those who struggle to get into school, to pupils needing support with reading – Rufus offers an incentive and comfort for those pupils. He’ll also be able to help with confidence issues – in the past therapy dogs have been able to bring students out of their shell and open up in their presence.”

Intelligent and calm Rufus was handpicked for role at The Hart School

Rufus is pictured here taking part in the recent World Book Day celebration at The Hart School

Rufus, who will be a permanent fixture in The Hart School family, was handpicked for this important role because of the hypo allergenic nature of a poodle, as well as the intelligence and calmness that comes from this particular breed.

His handler and trainer, Miss Fran Kinnstein, said: “Rufus is calm, friendly and gentle in school. He is so friendly to everyone, very quiet and no jumping up! Students are great at respecting his training and not being too excitable around him.

“However, at home he is rambunctious and charges around the garden with the six chihuahuas that make up his family.

“His favourite food is the chicken he has for breakfast, which is something that his siblings don’t get, but he needs more energy as he is a working dog after all with a busier day than the average pet!”

Rufus makes everyone’s day!

Rufus taking a playtime break in his box of toys

And even without his therapy dog training being complete he’s already making a positive impact.

Mr Brennan added: “Rufus always gets a reaction when he goes into a class, and even though he’s still in training, we have been amazed by how the students and staff, who all love him, have been affected already.

“From one pupil saying that just ten minutes with Rufus makes them feel better – and that’s before he’s finished his therapy training – to another who said that seeing Rufus really makes their day and they look forward to seeing him.”

It will take another 12 months for Rufus to become a qualified therapy dog – and a full member of the school staff.

He is currently receiving regular puppy training at Trentham Dog Training School, but he will soon move onto his specialist training to become a qualified therapy dog. He will then be able to ‘work’ for three hours every day with students that will need his help most.

For more on The Hart School, and what it can offer your child, please visit, email [email protected], telephone 01889 802440 or you can also follow then on social media @thehartschool.

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