Hands off for body therapy

12th June 1998 at 01:00
Angus has ditched Alexander. After a year-long project with five disruptive secondary pupils, the council has decided to drop an experiment with the Alexander technique.

It is believed to be the first time an authority has sanctioned the alternative medical practice to control pupil behaviour, but the education committee was told the scheme would go no further after results proved inconclusive.

The hands-on treatment was delivered by an Alexander technique expert and paid for by a local charity. Pupils were coaxed to change their behaviour by realigning their bodies.

Jim Anderson, Angus's director of education, said: "It is a bona fide technique recognised by medical experts and is often used by musicians. It could be described as a relaxation technique and the project was to test whether it had any influence on youngsters with behavioural difficulties.

"There may be some benefits but you have to embed these things in the hearts and minds of the people involved. If it's one thing in an armoury of approaches, that's fine."

The project hoped to help pupils improve their concentration and attention span, communicate better with staff and become more aware of their own behaviour. Higher self-esteem and fewer incidences of disciplinary referrals were other objectives.

One pupil reported significant improvement, three said there was no change and one admitted a dip in behaviour. But all five said they enjoyed the experience and coped better with anxieties.

Curiously, classroom observation appeared to show three of the pupils' behaviour deteriorating, although none became unmanageable. Some teachers noticed significant improvement in two of the pupils.

The unnamed secondary says pupils appear to have adapted more easily to school discipline. Fewer "loggings" of discipline breaches have been recorded. The council says useful lessons have been learnt but it is not taking Alexander in Angus any further.

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