A WESTCLIFF school is benefiting from calmer children after taking part in a massage in schools programme.

A group of complementary therapists have been visiting schools in south Essex to talk about the therapy and Earls Hall infants was one of the first to take part.

The scheme involves the children learning massage techniques and massaging the hands, arms, backs and heads of their fellow pupils.

They are fully clothed.

Lisa Cornish, a parent at Earls Hall School, said: "I had originally thought the massage was going to be done on my child by the teacher, but I was reassured to learn that the children only work on each other.

"Another concern was time. When would the children be doing the massage?"

"The teacher quickly reassured us the best time of day for the massage sessions was straight after lunch time play.

"It was a great way to calm the children down and help them focus for the afternoon session.

"I'm really happy my daughter has started the programme, and look forward to her practising on us at home!"

The sessions usually last ten minutes.

Chris Brown, deputy headteacher, said the programme was brought in during the summer term for foundation stage children.

Parents were invited to a meeting with the instructors and the pupils had six sessions with them.

Mr Brown said: "The children really enjoyed their massage and it supported them in many ways. They were able to interact with other children they may not have chosen to work with before and they learnt to respect each other more."

"Asking permission before the session was a very powerful way of raising awareness of the importance of the personal space of others in their class.

"It had a quiet, calming influence on the class. There was also a positive response from parents who had been shown the techniques by their children at home."

For more information go to www.massageinschoolsassociation.org.uk or call Sally Morris 01702 203001.