How baby watching scheme is helping pupils at Whitefields School, Cricklewood

Times Series: How babies are helping pupils focus How babies are helping pupils focus

Babies are being used to help control aggression in a high school classroom in Cricklewood.

Whitefield School, in Claremont Road, holds weekly baby watching sessions where a group of six pupils observe a mother and her baby playing for half an hour.

The secondary school became one of the first in the country to introduce the quirky scheme as part of an effort to reduce anxiety and aggression levels at school.

Teacher Stavrolva Alachiotis, who set up the initiative, says the scheme is working very well.

The 34-year-old said: “We are really starting to see some good results, and bit by bit we are helping these kids deal with past problems and difficulties.

“Just recently a teacher told me that two kids who are normally very noisy, were so well behaved for the rest of the day after one session with the baby.

“They stared at the whiteboard all day.”

“Baby watching”, which was developed by psychiatrist Dr. Karl Birsch in Munich, is based on the idea that punishing children for bad behaviour does not always work.

The therapy aims to increase empathy and sensitivity in children.

During “baby watching” sessions pupils are encouraged to comment on the relationship between the mother and child, sing nursery rhymes and draw pictures.

Ms. Alachiotis, who is herself eight and a half months pregnant, said the scheme was initially greeted with skepticism from teachers and parents.

However, the scheme is now gaining in popularity and assistant head for inclusion, Mumin Humayun, admits it is working well.

She said: “At first I was not too sure about it, but gradually I am coming around I think. That is not say I’m a full convert, but it certainly has its merits.”

Last week, a mother dropped in to meet the children with her son, Arlo.

Student Noha, 12, said: “It’s fun. I’m happy afterwards. I laugh more, I sing more and I smile a lot too.”

David, 11, added: “It’s like the baby is your friend because he plays with you. That is really nice - it makes you feel good.”

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