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Reflexology can ease the stress

Every GCSE pupil at Lilian Baylis is being offered reflexology on their hands or feet to help them relax before their exams.

It is the first time the school has offered the New Age treatment to all its Year 11 pupils, although it has employed an on-site reflexologist for two years.

Amanda Walker usually spends one day a week working with pupils who have been referred to her by pastoral staff at the school - sometimes because they are suffering from stress or behaviour problems.

In the run-up to the exams, she and a fellow reflexologist have been working extra shifts to give GCSE pupils 20-minute sessions. The therapy involves massaging pressure points to promote relaxation in other parts of the body.

She demonstrated to pupil Kim Davey, 16, how she could stimulate her adrenal gland by rubbing a point on her hands.

"So remember to press there if you start to feel anxious during your exams," she said.

Ms Walker said teachers reported that pupils were much better-behaved and more focused after the treatment.

"It's non-threatening to the pupils because it's not a talking therapy," she said. "Sometimes they will be so relaxed, they fall asleep, so we hear a lot of snoring."

Reflexology is part of the school's extensive pastoral support. There are four full-time staff who work with pupils and families on non-academic matters, and at least two staff on site with extensive social work experience who are employed by the pastoral care charity Kids Company.

Pupils treated with reflexology are eager to return for more, although some staff members are less convinced.

"Of course the pupils like it," one senior teacher said. "Do you think they would rather be in lessons or lying down having someone rubbing their feet?"

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