Some parents are unhappy with youngsters’ ‘inappropriate’ touching
AFTER lunch school sessions in which pupils giving each other massages have been defended by a Sheffield headteacher after criticism from parents.
Chris Hobson, head at Shiregreen’s Hartley Brook Primary, said the programme is designed to help children concentrate and relax after a busy break.
Children are massaged on the shoulders, neck, head and arms by fellow pupils, and can stop if they are uncomfortable.
But some parents are unhappy with the innovation and are refusing to let their children take part.
Mrs Hobson said the massages were ‘calming’ and completely unintrusive.
She said: “It’s really just doing massage through the clothes. The children seem to love it.
“It’s only five to 10 minutes and it makes such a difference to the way the children calm down and get focused on their work.
“Sometimes children can take quite a while to calm down after playtime and this can waste valuable teaching time.
“They are given the chance to say they don’t want to do it with somebody and also the children choose their partners.”
Mrs Hobson said she respected the views of parents who did not want their children to take part.
“But children are quite touchy-feely, they like being cuddled and they like being nice to each other,” she said.
One of the school’s critics is mother-of-two Rachel Beer, who said she felt the massage was ‘inappropriate’.
Mrs Beer, who has two children aged seven and nine at the school, said: “I understand children do need calming down after they have come in from lunch.
“I just think there’s better relaxation techniques out there that can help with that. Yoga has the same benefits as peer massage that doesn’t involve them touching each other.
“I just think it’s a bit strange. If you went into work and they asked you to massage your work colleagues you would be uncomfortable with that.”
Mrs Beer said many other mothers felt the same way and she had made her feelings clear to the headteacher.
“Surely the 20 minutes a day spent on these massages would be better spent on school work - 20 minutes a day is one hour and 40 minutes a week spent doing nothing.”
Hartley Brook is one of a number of city schools which have classroom massage sessions.
Council healthy schools adviser Chris Anderson said: “We have encouraged the Massage in Schools work for a number of years now. It links very well with developing the social and emotional side of the curriculum and it is just for four to 12-year-olds.”