Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

Sharon sees Action for Children's "tiny teachers" programme in action - roots of empathy

Sharon visits Carr Hill Primary in Gateshead to see the Action for Children's Roots of Empathy "tiny teachers" programme.


Image copyright - Action for Children, 2016.

Caption: Catherine Joyce, Action for Children, Katie Cohen – Roots of Empathy, Baby Penelope and mum Lucy Hailes, Joanne Drummond – Carr Hill Primary, 2 Year 4  Roots of Empathy pupils and Sharon Hodgson MP.

25 primary pupils at Carr Hill Primary in Gateshead welcomed Sharon Hodgson MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Children into their classroom to find out about their ‘tiny teachers’ programme which has helped the school children to learn about their emotions and the feelings of others.

The programme, Roots of Empathy, encourages children to interact in a nurturing manner by local mams bringing a baby and parent into the classroom. The initiative was introduced to the North East in 2011 by leading UK charity, Action for Children and currently runs in over 20 schools across the North East.

As part of the Roots of Empathy curriculum, a baby and parent visit the class nine times throughout the school year.  A trained 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.

Following the visit, Sharon said:

“I was delighted to be invited along to see first-hand the excellent work done through the Roots of Empathy programme which helps young children develop the soft skills of empathy, nurturing and understanding by engaging with babies and learning firsthand how to read signs of what the baby feels and wants."

“It is important that all children and young people get the opportunity to develop the skills required to live a full and rewarding adult life, and starting from such a young age to develop these skills will only put them in a great position for adulthood and eventual parenthood.”

John Egan, Action for Children’s director of children’s services across the North of England, said:

“We were incredibly pleased to welcome the Shadow Minister for Children to the school today to see our Roots of Empathy programme in action.  It’s a big milestone in the month when baby Penelope comes into the classroom as the children are eager to learn and see how she has developed since their last visit."

“Roots of Empathy aims to close the attainment gap for pupils, particularly those in deprived communities.  Action for Children commissioned a study last year which revealed that the programme significantly reduces childhood aggression and bullying 76 per cent, with serious results amongst pupils who display higher levels of aggressive behaviour”.

“Programmes like this are vital to ensure we level the playing field for all children however, there is concern that unprecedented cuts to early help will leave things worse for those who need support most.  We call on Sharon and other politicians to influence Government to break this cycle.”

Roots of Empathy is an internationally recognised educational programme developed by award winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert, Mary Gordon, in 1996.  Over 800,000 children have taken part in the programme worldwide.  Action for Children’s delivery across the North East is supported by the Big Lottery Fund.
About Action for Children

• Action for Children works directly with more than 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers each year.  With 650 services throughout the UK 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 145 years. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @actnforchildren
• Roots of Empathy is an award-winning charitable organisation that offers empathy-based programming for children. Their vision is to change the world - child by child.
Roots of Empathy is considered a model of social innovation and has two programs: a flagship program of the same name for children in primary school (Roots of Empathy) and Seeds of Empathy, its "younger sibling" - a program for children ages three-to-five in early childhood settings. Both programs have shown dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression among children while raising their social and emotional competence and increasing empathy. For more information go to:

Action for Children

Roots of Empathy Twitter


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