Our school pets

Our school dog is Poppy who usually lives with Mrs Pelham but comes to school every day and is very popular!


Meet a very special member of the Holly Park family – Poppy who is a Cockapoo. Poppy is an integral part of our school community.

Children can benefit educationally and emotionally, increase their understanding of responsibility and develop empathy and nurturing skills, through contact with a suitable, calm dog. In addition to these benefits, children take great enjoyment from interaction with animals. By having a school dog we want to encourage those children who are vulnerable, or those less confident at reading to have a friendly audience and look forward to reading as a treat. The breed of Cockapoo is carefully selected as suitable for this type of environment. Poppy is well cared for and responsibly owned by the Headteacher.  The chair of governors has agreed that the school can have a dog.

What are the benefits of having a school dog?

Numerous research studies have shown the benefits of dogs in schools. Dogs have been working in schools for over 5 years across the UK with several integrated very successfully in local Barnet schools. Dogs have been commonplace in schools in the USA and Australia for many years.

Evidence indicates that benefits include:

Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving and game-playing. Reading to a dog can be very beneficial as dogs give unconditional acceptance and are non judgemental. Dogs make amazing listeners.

Social – a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, encourages responsibility, wellbeing and focused interaction with others. Attendance for some pupils has improved because of a school dog.

Emotional – a school dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others and lifts mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach empathy, compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieving anxiety. This has been known to reduce the percentage of violent or aggressive behaviour in school.

Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, walk and stimulates the senses

Environmental – a dog in a school increases the sense of a family environment, with all of the above benefits continuing long after the school day is over.

Poppy is owned by Ann Pelham and she will cover all vet’s bills.

Poppy is a Cockapoo, chosen for her mild temperament, friendliness and non-moulting coat.

Cockapoo Characteristics

  • A  small dog
  • Completely people-oriented
  • Is very adaptable
  • An affectionate, kind, friendly dog
  • Is good with children

Some concerns you might have

Our school does have a ‘no dogs’ policy – however Poppy will be the school dog and will be in school for a specific purpose. She will be on a lead at all times when moving around the school property and will always be accompanied by an adult. Poppy will also be fully insured to carry out her role thus allowing her to be on the school site. We still will NOT be allowing other dogs onto the school site at any time as their temperament etc is unknown to us. So the ‘no dogs’ policy still applies to other dogs.

Some children may have had upsetting experiences and thus have a fear of dogs (or another animal). Poppy is calm and gentle around children; she has a very loving and gentle nature. Experience and research have shown that, with proper guidance and handling, children can learn to overcome their fear of animals and grow in respect and appreciation for them.

It is understandable that some of you may be concerned about possible allergic reactions to a school dog. The Cockapoo breed is known to be hypo- allergenic. Poppy will be subjected to a thorough cleanliness and grooming regime. We will ask parents who are concerned to make the school aware if their child has an allergy.

If you do not want your child to interact directly with Poppy then please put this in writing to the school.

Here is our Dog Policy

Mr Reid also has two cats which are regularly seen around school and are very popular. They are called Romeo and Rudy.