A CULTURALLY-diverse primary school that worked to bounce back from lockdown by helping pupils find things out about each others backgrounds has been named the world’s most empathic.

Pupils at Reid Street Primary School in Darlington, scooped the title at the Worldwide School Empathy Award Ceremony after their project was heralded by judges of the competition in which 80,000 students from more than 40 countries took part.

Six children from the school had lined up alongside finalists from Italy, Nepal and Mexico to make a presentation at a virtual ceremony about Empathy Week, what it meant to them and how they intended to take this work forward.

The international judges panel said the dedication shown throughout the Darlington school, with each class of children producing a virtual book on languages and cultures had made them stand out.

The judges added that teachers and students alike had used empathy in their own context to better understand themselves and others in the world around them.

A spokesman for the judges said: “The creativity of the project they submitted showed the ethos of the school and that empathy was a core component of how they want to develop and not just a one-off event.”

Children said they were delighted to have won the international award. Daisy, a year five student, said: “It made me feel like we were making the world a better place. It helps people who are going through a tough time especially during Covid. It made me feel happy that we could spread the word ‘empathy’ to show acts of kindness.”

Trevor Alley, the school’s chair of governors said while all those at school supported the values of the project. “never for one moment” had they thought the school would win a global award.

Mayor of Darlington Cyndi Hughes who attended the ceremony described it as “an incredibly powerful and moving experience” and encouraged more schools to take part in next year’s Empathy Week. She said: “I am extremely proud of Reid Street Primary for the world-class work they have done on empathy and their year long, school-wide project learning about what it might feel like to walk in other people’s shoes.

“I have attended many school events over the years but this experience of linking with and learning from amazing young people from Mexico City, Rome and Nepal will stay with me forever. Much more attention needs to be given to developing emotional intelligence to help children and young people to not only succeed but also to be happy. I congratulate Reid Street Primary students, staff, governors and families on this truly world beating outcome.”

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