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'Tiny Teachers' thanked for anti-bullying project.

Byline: Helen Rae Health reporter

TINY teachers have been working with pupils at a school in Northumberland to teach them essential life skills.

The year four pupils from Grace Darling Primary in Newbiggin-bythe-Sea, Northumberland, have welcomed babies and toddlers into their classrooms as part of the Roots of Empathy programme, which aims to tackle bullying in schools.

The programme has been run in 25 schools in Newcastle, Gateshead and Northumberland by the Action for Children charity, with funding from the Big Lottery. It aims to teach children about emotional intelligence. John Egan, operational director of children's services at Action for Children, said: "Roots of Empathy is having a tremendous impact on pupils in the region and Action for Children is proud to be rolling the programme out to a further 15 schools next year.

"Of course, we couldn't do it without the support of our Tiny Teachers - and their parents."

Pupils marked the occasion by writing wishes for the babies' futures, before hanging them on a special "wish tree". Pupils Jonathan Okon and Megan Chapman attend Grace Darling Primary School and have had Tiny Teacher Charlie Clough visiting them over the school year.

"It was really exciting having baby Charlie in class," said Jonathan, nine. "He helped us talk about our feelings, and we learned lots about him and how babies grow and need to be looked after."

Classmate Megan said: "Baby Charlie taught us how to be nice to each other and I learned a lot about him.

"He cries if we talk too loudly and he really doesn't like strawberries - I'm going to miss him." Charlie's mother Joanne Clough said she could see the excitement on the children's faces every time they went in to see the young pupils.

She said: "It's been fantastic working with the children and seeing the difference in them over the school year."

As part of the Roots of Empathy curriculum, a baby and parent visit the class nine times in the school year. An instructor guides pupils in labelling the baby's emotions, raising levels of empathy among classmates and reducing levels of aggression among the school children.


Deborah Parkinson and daughter Hollie, 11 months, from Denton Burn

Iain Buist
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 11, 2014
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