PUPILS at The Mead in Wingfield have gained a new furry friend as the school has introduced the concept of a learning dog to help youngsters open up with their school work.

Fred, the five-year-old black Labrador visits children every Friday morning and will help the pupils with their learning, play and social skills in hope it transcends into the classroom.

Teacher Alex Clark, who owns Fred, said she didn’t expect her mere idea to become so popular.

“We decided to start the initiative because we thought it would be positive for the school because we had a therapy dog at our other site,” she added. “It is a positive attribute to the school because it shows that having a dog there does benefit the pupils in their learning, play and just general day-to-day life.

“There are a couple of children who I have seen a major improvement in regarding their social abilities because they talk to Fred. There is one girl who is quite introvert in class but as soon as we took her out on a Friday morning, she was a completely different person with Fred and that is what is great about having him here.”

Mrs Clark, who has two children of her own, said she tries to allow pupils from all classes to visit Fred who has been through rigorous assessments to be able to visit the school.

She added: “Fred doesn’t care about all these kids being around him. I have had a couple of children come out of class and just lie with him or wrap their arms around him because they really do look at him like a friend.

“He obviously really enjoys it and when he goes home on the Friday afternoon, he just passes out from tiredness.

“Some of the parents have even come in with treats themselves on a Friday just to see Fred which is nice.”