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Tuesday, June 1, 1999 Published at 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK


Schools massage away exam stress

Relaxation classes are becoming an accepted revision technique

by BBC News Correspondent Keith Phillips

Ambient music, soft talking and a shoulder massage are not what most of us would consider to be a suitable exam revision programme.

Massaging exam stress away: Keith Phillips reports
But at Trinity School, in Leamington Spa, they are taking pre-exam nerves very seriously indeed.

The school has drafted in a former teacher, Monica Troughton, who now works as a stress relief manager.

She hopes she can calm nerves in the build-up to summer exams.

"When they come in, they're angry, they're restless, they're hyper," she says.

"But as soon as I start talking with a tape, people just close their eyes, and they're off. At the end of the session, the students feel very different from how they came in."

[ image: Exams can be a time of great stress]
Exams can be a time of great stress
Schoolchildren find coping difficult

As exam time approaches for thousands of pupils across the country, many are becoming stressed and agitated.

Teachers and parents are worried that schoolchildren are finding it difficult to cope with the demands put upon them.

Their work may suffer, and in some cases children have needed counselling as their pre-exam jitters get too much to handle.

There are 1,000 pupils at Trinity School, and teachers believe it is better to help children deal with their anxieties before they get too serious.

Marcia Watson is head of year at Trinity.

"Rather than having them go out and find an alternative method to release that stress, a relaxation session within school is obviously a much better alternative," she says.

"It's safe, it doesn't require any other chemical substances, and it's not addictive."

[ image: Indian head and shoulder massages are very popular]
Indian head and shoulder massages are very popular
Massage classes

Trinity now runs massage classes, including an Indian head and shoulder massage.

It was originally given to only GCSE pupils but it is now being offered to other years too.

Pupils are keen to take it up, and once taught the basic necessities they're encouraged to pass on their skills.

The classes here are proving to be so popular that the school is now planning to make them available to teachers.

And they are beginning to wonder if anxious parents might not benefit as well.

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