Top barks for school success as Mika the cute lab is teachers’ pet

Robert Bruce Middle School, Kempston.
Robert Bruce Middle School, Kempston.

Fresh air, healthy exercise and a soppy brown dog called Mika are all set to transform a “failing” school into a top marks academy.

Robert Bruce Middle School pupils will be encouraged to take regular breaks from stuffy classrooms and study outside instead.

They could even have an camp-out centre in their playground, where they can learn everything from bush cookery to survival skills.

And the star of all this success will be a teachers’ pet - in the form of a chocolate brown labrador puppy.

Mika, who belongs to headteacher Karen Parker, already comes to the Kempston school every day to provide a listening ear for slow readers and a comforting cuddle for youngsters feeling upset.

Now her role is set to expand to make the school even more unique.

For this week Robert Bruce became the first academy in the UK to be taken on by the successful Challenger Trust.

The trust specialises in outdoor learning, believing it helps children realise their maximum potential and develop lifelong skills.

“One of the ideas we’ve already discussed with the school is putting up some tents and forming an activity centre. Another is using specialist centre to reward a couple of hours’ revision with a session of canoeing or kayaking,” said a trust spokesman.

“Robert Bruce is wonderful school with a great head, staff and students. Everybody is full of enthusiasm and ideas.”

The spokesman described Mika as “a wonderful asset” and said she would certainly be a key figure in future plans.

The 370 pupil school is currently in the bottom 20 per cent of all schools nationally.

It was described as “inadequate” in a damning report by Ofsted two years ago and later forced by the council to become an academy.

The Challenger Trust spokesman said: “We have a great team to work with and together can make this school a real success.”