A new member of staff at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Voluntary Academy is playing a vital part in Children’s Mental Health Week – Arthur the school dog.

Labrador Arthur is well and truly part of the Saint Joseph’s family and he even has his photo displayed on the staff board as well as his own page on the school website.

He is also playing his part in Children’s Mental Health Week this week as he is instrumental in the school’s approach to wellbeing; he provides a calming influence and children are allowed to walk him as a reward for good behaviour. Children also learn what is involved in caring for a pet.

A full risk assessment was carried out by the school before Arthur was introduced to staff and pupils.

Stacey Carr, Headteacher at Saint Joseph’s, in Matlock, said: “At Saint Joseph’s we believe in providing a nurturing and caring environment for our pupils. Arthur is an important member of our school community who holds a special place in the hearts of our students.

“Arthur is more than just a furry friend; he is an essential part of our school’s wellbeing initiatives. He provides comfort, companionship and unconditional love to our pupils. Research shows that interaction with dogs can reduce stress levels and increase happiness.

“Our pupils adore Arthur and regularly look forward to spending time with him. The opportunity to walk him not only brings joy and excitement but also helps to build a sense of responsibility and empathy among our students.

“Arthur helps children who struggle to regulate their emotions, he can really help to calm them down. He’s really settled in school now and will go in and out of classrooms. The other day he was asleep on the carpet while the teacher was reading to the children. I’ve also seen him outside with the children when they are playing football.

“He has his picture on the staff board and he’s part of our Saint Joseph’s family now. He’s such a calming influence and it’s been good for any children who might have had a fear of dogs because they are seeing Arthur and interacting with him which is a real milestone for them.

“Everyone loves Arthur.”

Pupil Bridget, 11, said: “It’s really nice having Arthur in school, it’s so lovely because he’s so calming but having him in school is exciting at the same time. We can also trade in points that we earn as rewards and one of the rewards is taking Arthur for a walk.”

Pupil Orlaith, 11, said: “I love having Arthur in school, it’s really fun and he’s really cute. A lot of my friends are jealous of all of the things happening in our school, like Arthur. He even has his photo on the staff board. I think he comforts staff as well as children.”