DOZENS of pupils got to learn firsthand what it is like to care for a baby for a weekend during a school project.
Thirty teenagers from Dene Community School in Peterlee took home the life-like dolls that had been programmed to recreate the needs of a baby at various ages.
The pupils, who are all studying health and social care at the school, in the town’s Manor Way, had to care for the babies that have microchips programmed for it to act as if it needs the likes of food or a nappy change.
The programme was created to help the pupils decide which area of care they would like to move into after school, rather than act as a means of pregnancy prevention.
Suzanne James, head of health and social care at the school, said: “It is part of the health and social care qualification and it is also part of personal development to get what it’s like to be responsible for a baby over the weekend.
“The babies are microchipped and they are marked on how they deal with the baby’s needs.”
The teenagers, who make up three classes at the school, are now working to create a powerpoint presentation to tell other pupils what they have learned during sa school assembly.
This is the second time the school has run the programme.
They will be marked with either a pass, merit or distinction on how they have cared for the baby.
Mrs James added that the programme is an excellent way of teaching pupils how difficult it is to care for a young baby.
She told the Mail: “These Life Choice babies are by far the best way to get young people to recognise how difficult parenting can be, while giving hands on experience of the realities of administering care and allowing students to make informed choices about their lives.
“It is invaluable experience and it helps them make decisions about college.
“It might be that they take part and then decide that early-years childcare is not for them.
“Afterwards they were absolutely over the moon and they loved it.
“They are health and social care students because they want to work in this environment.
“It’s been really good so they are looking at the courses that they can go into next.”
The youngsters are set to go into Sure Start nurseries across the area to get vital experience of caring for real babies as part of their coursework.