A new furry friend has been added to the staff roster of a Bolton school to help children with their learning.

Little Lever School has recently welcomed its new literacy dog, Reading Ralph. 

Ralph, a great Dane, has been brought in to encourage pupils to read, and staff at the school say that everyone who has met him has "had a great time". 

According to Pets As Therapy, a charity which has helped organise the scheme, reading to dogs is proven to help improve literacy skills and develops confidence, interest and enjoyment in reading. 

It comes as part of their Read2Dogs campaign. 

The Bolton News: Dylan, a Year 7 student, with RalphDylan, a Year 7 student, with Ralph (Image: Little Lever School)

Pets as Therapy (PAT) says: "When a PAT dog visits a school, their presence can boost a young person’s motivation and morale.

"Dogs are non-judgemental and great listeners - they don’t interrupt or correct - so they aid confidence and concentration levels. 

"PAT dogs are also known to encourage positive social behaviours, enhance self-esteem and inspire young people to relax and have fun."

Dominic Mckeon, principal at Little Lever School, said: “We’ve absolutely loved having Ralph and Pets as Therapy on board at Little Lever School. Reading is integral to our school and improves the life chances of all our students.

The Bolton News: Reading RalphReading Ralph (Image: Little Lever School)

"We think this programme is fantastic for our pupils and will help everyone develop a love of reading. 

"Ralph has made a huge impact on students, and staff who’ve been around him – he’s certainly brought a big smile to everyone’s face!” 

Reading is regularly cited as being one of the most important things for children of school age. 

The Bolton News: Harry, of Year 7, with RalphHarry, of Year 7, with Ralph (Image: Little Lever School)

According to exam board Pearson, children who read for pleasure every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. 

The exam board adds that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.

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