Doncaster College helps their Learners get to grips with babies

The babies are used in class on a regular basis to enhance the learning environment, and to help the learners develop their caring, nurturing and life skills. The life-like dolls are activated by pressing buttons on their stomachs, to feed them or put them to sleep. If the dolls are neglected they begin to wail. Four models have even been set up to show symptoms of parental or alcohol abuse.

To help the learners put theory into practice, the college has set up a nursery for the dolls. Here, learners can gain a fantastic insight into what it might be like to work with babies and small children in a real nursery. “The Centre have gone to great effort to make it as realistic as possible,” says Centre Advisor Maureen Lilley. “When you walk in, you can even smell the talcum powder.”

Each night time, nominated learners take their doll home. The following day, they book the baby into the college’s nursery where their fellow learners act as nursery nurses and record the babies’ details such as feeding or changing times.

Jackie Dow, the Programme Co-ordinator, said: “The babies can be modified for students serving higher level qualifications, so that they have more complex functions. This allows students to progress with the babies, as they move onto further courses.”

Doncaster College have also been keen to share their experiences with other Centres in the area. Jackie says, “We’ve already delivered a training session to staff at colleges in Dewsbury and Harrogate on how the programme works. Their feedback was excellent and it shows that the project has real value.”

The learners are equally as positive about the programme, and Jackie says, “they really look forward to spending time with the babies, and it really helps them translate what they have learnt in the classroom into a practical, real life situation.”