21 September 2022

Nurturing Empathy Before Transition Project – gets underway in Merseyside

The Nurturing Empathy Before Transition (NEBT) project is a 3-year independent evaluation of the Roots of Empathy programme. The evaluation is being conducted by Sheffield Hallam University, and the project is resourced by the Youth Endowment Fund.

Roots of Empathy is an award-winning, evidence-based classroom programme that has shown a significant effect in reducing levels of aggression, including bullying, among school children by raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy.

At the heart of the Roots of Empathy programme is a local parent and baby who visit the classroom throughout the school year.

The Nurturing Empathy Before Transition project will be the first independent evaluation of Roots of Empathy out of England, although we have over 20 years of positive independent research about the programme.  The NEBT project aims to determine whether the Roots of Empathy programme effectively raises levels of empathy and pro-social behaviour and supports children as they transition to Secondary school. The evaluation will be a randomised control trial, and there will be two schools’ intakes to the programme. Overall, 140 schools will participate across various areas of disadvantage in England. Half of the schools will be randomly selected to receive the Roots of Empathy programme, and the remaining half will form a ‘control group’ who will continue with their normal lessons, without the programme (they receive a payment for their efforts).

Over the past year, Roots of Empathy UK have been working with Merseyside Youth Association to bring the transformational Roots of Empathy programme to the region. We have been met with a keen response to the programme from schools, health and policing. In 2021-22 and in the shadow of the global pandemic, we ran the Roots of Empathy programme in two Liverpool schools.

This year we have carefully selected close to sixty schools across England to participate in the trial. Out of these, we are pleased to announce that twelve schools from Liverpool and the Wirral are participating in the project. The involvement of these schools will help The Youth Endowment Fund better understand what programmes work to keep children safe, why they work and who they work for. We at Roots of Empathy look forward to working with those schools in the intervention group to deliver the programme to their Year 5 Children.

Participating schools are busy getting ready to collect baseline data and prepping a member of their support team to become a Roots of Empathy Instructor. Schools that are assigned to the intervention group will start delivery of the programme in November.

  • If you like the sound of becoming a Roots of Empathy Instructor, let us know as we are looking for a number of community volunteers to fulfil this rewarding and well-supported role.
  • Have you or someone you know recently had a baby? We are recruiting volunteer families for this rewarding role on the programme from November (babies need to be 2-4 months old at that time).
  • We are recruiting for the 2022-23 Nurturing Empathy Before Transition cohort. So if your school is interested in participating, please contact arowe@rootsofempathy.org  and mention participation in the Nurturing Empathy Project 2022-23, and we will support you to apply.

Thank you from the Roots of Empathy team for the warm welcome we have received in Merseyside, and we are looking forward to working with you over the next two years – to help change the world child by child.

Katie Cohen

Roots of Empathy UK Manager