Rothesay pupils say thanks to tiny teacher Willow

Nine-month-old Willow Robertson with P2/3 pupils at Rothesay Primary School.
Nine-month-old Willow Robertson with P2/3 pupils at Rothesay Primary School.

Rothesay Primary School pupils gathered to say a big thank you to their ‘tiny teacher’ at a celebration in the school on Friday.

The event marked the end of the school year for Roots of Empathy – an innovative programme that aims to reduce bullying by bringing a baby and parent into the classroom.

The P2/3 pupils thanked nine-month-old Willow Robertson by writing wishes for her future and hanging them on a special wish tree.

Paul Carberry, director of service development at Action for Children Scotland, which organised the programme along with Argyll and Bute Council, said: “Action for Children Scotland has delivered Roots of Empathy to 168 schools across Scotland this year, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government’s Early Year Change fund.

“The overriding aim of the Early Years Framework is to give children the best start in life, and Action for Children Scotland is proud to play a part in delivering this.

“Of course we couldn’t do it without the support of our Tiny Teachers – and their parents! I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the babies, mums and dads involved for making Roots of Empathy such a huge success.”

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

Maureen Shaw, Rothesay Primary’s depute head for pre-five to Primary 5, said, “We have enjoyed Roots of Empathy; it has given us a window to a whole new world of learning. It has linked us more closely with our community and grown ties that will last a lifetime. Rothesay Primary would definitely like to be involved in Roots of Empathy for a second year to build on what we have learned about the programme.”

Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Education and Lifelong learning, Councillor Aileen Morton, said, “The council is committed to giving every child the very best start in life and help them grow to be valuable contributors to our communities. The Roots for Empathy programme supports that by emphasising the positive benefits of working together, avoiding aggression, appreciating other people’s feelings and reading body language. This is an excellent example of partnership working – it’s great to see our schools working with the NHS and with members of our communities.”

Action for Children and Argyll and Bute Council deliver Roots of Empathy programmes in Rockfield, Lochnell, Rhu, Dalintober and Dunoon primary schools, and at Lochgilphead and Rothesay joint campuses.