The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Glasgow Primary School to learn about Action for Children’s Roots of Empathy programme

Thursday 12 May 2022

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited a Primary School in Inverclyde to see Action for Children deliver its Roots of Empathy programme to a group of children

Their Royal Highnesses stopped by St John’s Primary School in Port Glasgow this morning to learn more about the long-running Roots of Empathy programme and take part in one of the sessions.

Roots of Empathy is an early intervention programme that helps develop emotional literacy in children aged 5-12. Through the participation of a local mother and baby, a trained Instructor guides the children to identify and label the baby’s feelings, reflect on and understand their own feelings and then understand the feelings of others.

The Duke and Duchess, who is the Patron of Action for Children, arrived at the school as a session involving 35 pupils was taking place in the gym hall. They sat with the children, the instructor and the mother and baby involved in the session before speaking to two primary seven pupils to learn more about the prolonged impact their involvement in the programme has had.

Afterwards, their Royal Highnesses met Action for Children Director Paul Carberry who discussed the success of Roots of Empathy and the interesting findings from an independently conducted 10-year Evaluation of the programme.

Paul Carberry said: “We were delighted to work with Kensington Palace to organise this visit. We have an incredible record delivering this programme and I was honoured to discuss our work in this area with the Duke and Duchess.

“Having the chance to meet the Duke and Duchess has been a wonderful experience for the children at St John’s and will undoubtedly have a positive lasting impact similar to our Roots of Empathy programme.

“The Duchess is the Patron of Action for Children, and today’s visit allowed our staff to highlight to her the benefits of Roots of Empathy for parents and children throughout Scotland.”


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit St John’s Primary School in Port Glasgow.

Since 2010, Action for Children has delivered Roots of Empathy to over 29,000 pupils across 28 Local Authorities in Scotland. The award-winning programme helps promote emotional competence and development of empathy in primary school children, decreases aggression, including bullying, and has been found to increase prosocial behaviours such as caring, sharing and inclusion.

The independent report which Paul Carberry discussed with the Duke and Duchess shed light on how impactful the programme has been since it launched in Scotland. One key finding reported in the 10-year evaluation found 96% of teachers felt pupils were talking more about their feelings, while 75% stated pupils were more empathetic to one another. The longitudinal study also found 80% of pupils reported a better understanding how others feel and 86% were more pro-social towards their classmates.

Martin Craig, Acting Head Teacher at St John’s Primary School, spoke highly of the programme, and the impact it has on the children at St John’s.

He commented: “We have been involved in the Roots of Empathy programme for several years and really value the impact it has on our children here at St John's. I even volunteered my own son to be a "mini teacher" for the programme.

“To have the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit highlights just how important this focus on compassion and empathy is to childhood development. This visit will shine a light on the importance and the lasting impact the programme has on our young children and may encourage more schools to join.”



Tony Connelly, News and Media Relations Officer, Action for Children in Scotland:
07809 781 190 / [email protected]
Out of hours 07802 806 679 / [email protected]


About Action for Children: Action for Children Scotland works directly with more than 20,000 children, young people, parents and carers each year. With 87 services in Scotland, we are in communities where you live and work. We help transform the lives of thousands of children and young people each year and we’ve been doing so for 60 years. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @actn4childrScot.