School Dogs

A Final Blog from Molly & Jasper

We’ve been school dogs for six years now and in that time we’ve seen and heard some things!

So, what have we learnt in that time? Schools are so much more than places of education. Obviously teaching the little people how to read, write and do maths is absolutely crucial but they are also learning how to interact with others, how to share and show empathy, to become resilient and to understand that there is a big world out there for them to explore.

We’ve heard most things whilst sat in The Boss’ office – the parents who see school as a “them and us” and who take no responsibility or ownership for their child’s learning to those who microparent their children and every type of parenting in between. Being a parent these days is difficult  - in some ways technology has helped (there’s an app for just about everything) but it also means the little people have a very scary world at their fingertips and don’t actually know if the 10 year old they are supposedly chatting to is real or someone attempting to groom them.

For us, that’s why our camping trips with the children are so important. The little people get a break from technology and they learn to make dens, climb trees, roll around in mud and experience good old fashioned childhood fun. When The Boss became head teacher of Queen’s Hills “way back when” (she was appointed in 2007 and started in April 2008) she knew she wanted the little people to have a good, rounded education with opportunities for The Arts, Sports and Outdoor Learning. Little did she know back then how hard that journey would be. Balancing the aims against the budget is always tricky and many of the activities that have taken place over the years wouldn’t have been able to happen without the huge generosity of staff and supporters in both time and resources.

She’s had to battle over the years: against Ofsted (who can only take account of published data – the irony of being graded  “requires improvement” in June and being in the press for the “most improved school in Norfolk” months later in October was not lost on her and yes, she did email the lead inspector to tell them that the predictions she had given them that they were not able to take into account were absolutely the results the children achieved), she insisted the school hall was expanded when additional classrooms were added, she badgered politicians and council members when she didn’t feel the Queen’s Hills community was getting the support it needed.

She’s cried when parents have come to her with diagnoses of terminal illnesses, when her female staff have told her they’ve miscarried or when a member of the team is going through a personal crisis, when she can’t get children the support they need to thrive (whether that’s additional support for the family or a placement in specialist provision) and she’s cried when she’s just been so frustrated with the “system”. We’ve seen first-hand when she has been shouted at and threatened and almost hit on more than one occasion by various parents over the years.

But we’ve also seen tears of joy with marriages, babies and graduations. We’ve seen a community come together in a pandemic, we’ve seen families grateful for the additional support (emotional and financial) that has been secured and we’ve seen our big little people cry with the relief of getting the results we knew, but they doubted, they were capable of.

We have seen non-verbal children gain confidence and whisper our names, we’ve been prodded and poked and laid on when little people have needed us to help them regulate, we’ve had them return to see us and tell us how well they have got on in their new setting. We’ve wagged our tails when they’ve shown us their best work and we’ve curled up with them when they’ve needed a bit of love.

According to the dictionary, a school is a place where children are educated. We disagree. A school is a building which houses a community of teachers, support staff and children who together aim to develop a passion for learning. A community where adults care about developing the whole child.

We are going to miss working with the little people so much and we are excited that we have more four legged friends in training. We think every school should have a dog. The Boss says you two legged folk should learn from us: we are always pleased to see you, every day is a fresh start and full of adventure, we want to make you happy and proud of us and so we give any task our absolute best effort.  We also know when you are having a bad day (that’s when we go out of our way to be extra attentive to you); we are full of energy when we need to be but at other times we’re just happy to chill.

Children will always be children – they will have good and bad days, fallouts and celebrations. We know how hard the staff are working to do the best they can to support the little people, giving up their own time to go that extra mile. They won’t always get it right, because they are human and also because sometimes the parents’ expectations of what “the school” can do is not entirely realistic. But they will always put the little people first – because that’s what they do. Whatever is going on in their personal life. And we know that because we’ve seen that first-hand too.

Be kind to each other and keep helping the little people to develop their passion for learning and life.

With the waggiest of tails and the fondest of memories,

Molly and Jasper xx

Molly & Jasper Blog 2021
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Molly and Jasper Blog 2018