Last Updated: Friday, April 17, 2020

Nurturing social and emotional growth using simulated babies in a Clackmannanshire primary school

What is this?

The Clackmannanshire Early Intervention Team (EIT) support Health and Wellbeing (HWB) at Early Level in identified primary schools within the Clackmannanshire Attainment Challenge. This example describes how simulated babies, a resource commonly used in the secondary sector, were used in a primary setting.

Who is this for?

Head teachers, early learning and childcare managers, practitioners and teachers.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice?

This exemplar could be used to stimulate professional dialogue around promoting social and emotional learning in individual schools or wider learning communities. You may like to consider the following questions as a starting point.  

  • To what extent are staff able to identify what is working well in all aspects of Health and Wellbeing and what are the areas for development? 
  • What systems are in place to monitor and track children's levels of self-esteem and other HWB indicators?  
  • Are we making the best use of our support staff?  What training and development needs are required to ensure we provide our children every opportunity to succeed? 

Improvement questions

  • To what extent do we support learners' social and emotional learning in a targeted and structured way?
  • To what extent have we established an inclusive and nurturing learning environment?

What was done?

Nurturing sessions were facilitated using simulated babies,  a resource which is primarily used with a much older age group (15+). An opportunity was identified to use this resource in supporting younger groups of children in Primary 1 to Primary 3.

Simulated babies replicate the demands of a real baby, requiring the caregiver to feed, burp, rock and change the baby as well as comfort it and hold it in a supportive position.  

The EIT team used the baby in two of the primary schools. In both settings the baby was used with small groups of children. One group of children all had new babies in their own family.

The children were able to work co-operatively and support and encourage one-another in their learning, developing skills in communication, patience, turn taking, team work, regulating emotions, and to some extent empathy. They were able to identify why the baby was crying and meet the care needs accordingly.   The children also talked about the baby with their parents and peers. They passed on what they had learned to others who were then invited to join the group.


A need had been identified to support children’s social and emotional growth and develop their self-esteem. This is part of a wider plan to support HWB across Clackmannanshire Council as part of their Scottish Attainment Challenge plan.

​What was the impact?

Early indications demonstrate that this intervention supported children in being more engaged, motivated and ready to learn. Pupil and teacher evaluations at the end of programme were also positive and schools are continuing with the work begun through the programme. A range of evidence was used to measure the impact, this included teacher judgement, teacher surveys and assessment tools, including the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire and Boxall Profile.