There was ‘paws’ for thought when a national animal charity paid a visit to pupils in Byker. The Dogs Trust spent two days at St Lawrence’s Catholic Primary School, where the organisation’s Education and Community Officer, Rachel Hibbard, led an assembly, before delivering workshops to teach the children about safe behaviour around dogs.

We thought the workshops would fit in well with our Safety Week, where we look at keeping safe in school, in the home, and in the community,” said Rachel Woodley, Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE) Lead at the school, which is part of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust.

Rachel did a whole-school assembly on the first day to give us all a general introduction to keeping safe around dogs. For the rest of that day, and the following day, she delivered workshops to each year group that were tailored to their age. The children loved it and learnt a lot – as did the teachers. I now have a puppy and use the ‘five dog rules’ that Rachel shared with my children.

Founded in 1891, the Dogs Trust rescues, cares for and rehomes over 15,000 animals each year and is the largest dog welfare charity in the UK.

The Dogs Trust Education Team was established in 2003 to provide educational programmes to young people and children across the UK, with the focus on responsible dog ownership and safe behaviour around dogs.

Its Be Dog Smart programme is designed to ‘empower children with the knowledge and skills to interact safely with dogs in both their personal lives and social settings’, and includes curriculum support to complement the free in-school workshops, ‘instilling safe and kind behaviours towards our four-legged friends’.

All children from Nursery to Year 6 took part in the whole-school assembly and workshops,” continued Ms Woodley. “There were no real-life dogs, but Rachel did bring her furry, toy-dog friends.

Visits like this are incredibly important,” she added. “In the past, we have always focused on road and metro safety, online safety, fire safety et cetera. I hadn’t thought about the importance of keeping safe around dogs, but, in future, I will always include dog safety in our safety weeks going forward.

Article created on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust by Barking Dog Media. For more information email: or call 07754 271086.