AN innovative project to help school pupils become more caring has been child's play to those taking part.

The Action for Children initiative which has been rolled out locally is designed to foster feelings of empathy and compassion by bringing babies into the classroom.

The youngsters learn by spending time with the tots during the school year and bonding with them as they develop and grow.

The Tele visited as the eight local schools taking part in the 'Roots for Empathy' project thanked all the families who got involved.

Additional support needs teacher Theresa Orr, who led the project, said: "I have been doing this now for four years.

"All the children now from primary three to primary seven have been through the programme and it has made such a difference in the playground.

"You can see from the way they interact with each other that they have learned so much about their emotions and how to cope with them.

"It has helped me as well. Just after I started the programme I lost my own mum. This helped me understand my grief and my own emotions."

St Patrick's Primary pupils have been working with tiny teacher Esme Sullivan, now ten months.

She comes in with her mum Gill to the school where her gran Liz MacDonald worked.

Primary three pupil Ben Munro says he was proud to represent his school at the celebration.

Ben said: "I love learning more about how it all works. Like babies have clicks in the brain that lets them know when they are somewhere new."

St Patrick's joined St Joseph's Primary, Ardgowan, St John's, St Michael's, St Francis and All Saints at the wrap party in Aileymill Primary.

Action for Children Director for Scotland Paul Carberry said: “The classroom visits by the baby and parent are at the heart of Roots of Empathy, helping schoolchildren to better understand their own feelings and the feelings of others around them.

“These end of term celebrations gives pupils and teachers, as well as staff from Inverclyde Council and Action for Children, the perfect opportunity to thank the 'tiny teachers' for their hard work over the school year.”

As part of the project's curriculum, a baby and parent visit each 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 as a result there is a dramatic reduction in levels of aggression among school children.