Back to news listing
Minister for Children and Young People meets Tiny Teacher
8 May 2012
Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, went
back to school today [Tuesday, 8 May 2012] to find out how babies
are helping to encourage positive behaviour and reduce levels of
aggression in classrooms across Perth and Kinross.
The Minister attended a Roots of Empathy class at Our Lady's
Primary School in Perth to meet a primary three class and their
'Tiny Teacher', seven-month old Molly Tierney. Roots of Empathy -
'empathy' being the ability to identify and understand another's
feelings - is an innovative programme which encourages children to
interact in a nurturing manner by bringing a baby and its parent
into the classroom over the course of the school year. Leading
charity Action for Children Scotland is working in partnership with
Perth and Kinross Council to deliver Roots of Empathy to 13 primary
schools in the area.
Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People said:
"Roots of Empathy is an innovative programme which takes an early
intervention approach to tackling and reducing aggression and
bullying in schools.
"Programmes like this can have a hugely positive influence on a
child's development so I'm pleased that the Scottish Government has
been able to support Roots of Empathy through the Early Years Early
Action Fund, managed by Inspiring Scotland."
The primary focus of Roots of Empathy is to reduce problem
behavior, including fighting and bullying, in classrooms.
Independent evaluations of the programme carried out in Canada -
where the programme originated and has been active for the longest
period of time - revealed a significant increase in peer
acceptance in 74% of children and a decrease in social
aggression in 39% of children .
Paul Carberry, operational director of children's services at
Action for Children Scotland, explained how the programme works:
"Roots of Empathy teaches school children to understand their own
feelings and the feelings of others by using a baby from the local
community as a 'tiny teacher'. Observing the attentive, loving
interaction between the parent and the child teaches pupils to
better understand their own feelings and the feelings of others;
resulting in more respectful relationships and a dramatic reduction
in levels of aggression among school children.
"At Action for Children, we are committed to promoting the benefits
of early intervention and Roots of Empathy is an excellent example
of this. By increasing levels of 'emotional literacy' in children
at a young age we can lay the foundation for safe and caring
classrooms and, in the long-term, safe and caring societies."
Roots of Empathy was developed by internationally-recognised social
entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting
expert, Mary Gordon, in 1996. Over 450,000 children have
taken part in the programme worldwide, including Canada, the USA,
New Zealand, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and the Republic of
Ireland. The programme was piloted in North Lanarkshire in 2010 by
Action for Children Scotland - the first time it was delivered
anywhere in Britain.
Sheena Devlin, Perth & Kinross Council's Head of Education -
Early Years & Primary said: "It is crucial that children gain
an early understanding of their own feelings, learning to manage
and express them appropriately. They also need to understand the
feelings of those people around them so their relationships with
others are positive ones. For that reason we are very pleased to
bring Roots of Empathy into our classrooms to show pupils that they
can interact with care, thought and respect."
Action for Children Scotland has introduced Roots of Empathy to 98
primary schools in 16 local authorities across Scotland following
investment from the Early Years Early Action Fund, delivered by
Inspiring Scotland in partnership with the Scottish
Andrew Muirhead, Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland said: "It
has been fantastic to visit Our Lady's Primary School today
and be part of a very special lesson lead by the Roots of
Empathy 'Tiny Teacher'. We are delighted to be able to support
Action for Children to bring this powerful programme to more
children across Scotland. Action for Children is one of 24
charitable ventures selected to receive investment through the
Early Years Early Action Fund which aims to ensure a child gets the
best start in life so they can grow into a happy and healthy