Royal Wootton Bassett pupils get a dummy run on life with a baby

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Pupils at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy are using virtual babies to try out parenting. Pictured Linda Woodruffe, Caylyn, Sasha, Jone, Milly, Lilly and Kerry Heaphy. Pupils at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy are using virtual babies to try out parenting. Pictured Linda Woodruffe, Caylyn, Sasha, Jone, Milly, Lilly and Kerry Heaphy.

Crying, changing nappies and feeding became part of the daily routine for five school children.

Year 10 pupils at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy became parents over the weekend after taking on virtual babies.

The babies, who are provided by Mothers Unison, are dolls that act like real life babies needing changing and feeding.

They are connected to a computer which monitors the actions over the weekend and shows how well or badly the parent has done.

Linda Woodruffe, community officer at Royal Wootton Bassett School, said: “This is an idea from Mothers Unison and it gives the pupils a chance to experience what it is like to have the responsibility of having a baby.

“I think being year 10 they are at the right age to see what it would be like and to ensure that they know what the challenge is of having a baby so young.

“The feedback we have got has been really good and the babies are very life like.”

Fifteen year old Sasha Roberts took one of the babies home last weekend and had to balance her social life of dancing with caring for the child.

She said: “I got involved because I thought it is a good experience and wanted to try it out and see what it is like.

“I’ve got a 12 week old sister so I know what it is like but wanted the experience for myself.

“I had to take the baby to dance classes with me which was a challenge.”

Joné Minor, 15, said: “I heard about it before and when I heard it was coming to the school I wanted to try it.

“I think I am going to become attached to it and not want to give it back.

“My mum has said that she will help out and I think it is a good idea to see just how much work is required in bringing up a baby.”

Astrid Lawrence, member of the Royal Wootton Bassett branch of Mothers Unison, who helped provide the babies for the school said that it was good to show young people the challenges of being a parent.

She said: “We asked the school whether they would be interested and then we came along and explained what we do and it has been a real success.

“The babies are very realistic and give the students the experience of parenting and the right things to do.

“The experience is very good and often opens the eyes to just how tough it can be, especially for single parents.”

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