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The Gentle Touch Means So Much

Children are helping to soothe each other with basic massage techniques at Ramsgate Arts Primary School.

The serene sessions have become a favourite with pupils in Reception and Year 1 who have learned a number of basic ‘gentle touch’ elements.

Under guidance from staff, they apply their hands-on system to one another at varying times of day, notably after break and after lunch.

Seated and against a back drop of tranquil ambient music and images, the children take it in turn to give and receive the calming massage.

Gently they lightly stroke each other’s head, face, neck, back and hands in a slow and methodical way.

Emily Hughes is the special needs co-ordinator for the Viking Academy Trust which includes RAPS together with Chilton Primary and Upton Junior School.

She said: “The massage programme is very effective. It was first introduced at Chilton School and the Trust schools have embraced it and use it a lot.

“It is important because it helps soothe, calm and reduce any anxiety. Specialist teachers came into RAPS and ran sessions on sensory processing for Reception and Key Stage 1 teachers so they could deliver the massage message.

“The massage is all about managing our children’s emotional literacy skills and feelings. Children have also engaged with a storybook called Once Upon A Touch that explores the same theme.”

The book is a fun and creative way to increase general well-being, improve concentration and self-awareness, and encourage relaxation in children.

Pupils are already successfully using an initiative to help deal with their worries - each classroom has a Worry Box where they post their thoughts about things that may be concerning them; there is also a central Worry Box in the main corridor.

Emily added: “It is important for children to have the opportunity to normalise worries with a coping strategy, and to understand that it is usual to feel concerned about many different things in their lives.”

RAPS Head of School Nick Budge said the massage sessions are now an integral part of school life.

He added: “It really is the gentle touch that means so much – children learn a series of movements and deliver them in such a kind and calm way. They really help each other and every little session is carried out in a lovely way.”

Ramsgate Arts Primary School is part of the Viking Academy Trust with Upton Junior School at Broadstairs and Chilton Primary School, Ramsgate.

To book a tour of RAPS and see the arts learning in action, contact Head of School Nick Budge on 01843 582847.