Royal Wootton Bassett pupils learn of the difficulties of parenthood

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Royal Wootton Bassett Academy pupils Caylyn, Sasha, Joné, Milly and Lilly with their virtual babies. Included, left, community officer Linda Woodruffe, and right, student manager Kerry Heaphy			         picture by thomas kelsey Royal Wootton Bassett Academy pupils Caylyn, Sasha, Joné, Milly and Lilly with their virtual babies. Included, left, community officer Linda Woodruffe, and right, student manager Kerry Heaphy picture by thomas kelsey

Crying babies, changing nappies and feeding are all going to become part of the daily routine for five schoolchildren.

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

The babies, provided by Mothers Unison, are dolls that act like real babies needing changing and feeding. They are connected to a computer that monitors actions over the weekend and shows how well, or badly, each pupil has done.

Linda Woodruffe, community officer at Royal Wootton Bassett School, said: “This 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 lifelike.”

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 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, a member of the Royal Wootton Bassett branch of Mothers Unison, 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.”

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