Secondary school U-turns on strict 'no contact' rule for pupils

Secondary school U-turns on strict ‘no contact’ rule for pupils: Headteacher apologises and ditches ban on hugging, high-fiving or shaking hands after furious backlash from parents

  • Head Andrea Dinn said the ban was ‘not right and I take responsibility for that’
  • The school previously said the no-contact ban would ‘ensure everyone feels safe’
  • Teachers gave presentations to pupils explaining how not to touch each other  
  • One pupil said she had to ask a teacher’s permission to hug her hurt friend 
  • A headmistress accused of ‘extreme control freakery’ after she banned pupils from hugging each other under a ‘no contact’ rule has apologised after a backlash.

    Andrea Dinn, head of Mossley Hollins High School in Greater Manchester, introduced the new rule last week saying youngsters should not engage in cuddling or playfighting due to fears they could put their classmates at risk of ‘harm’.

    The rule also banned pupils from carrying each other during playtime and even holding a place in the queue for their friends at lunch. 

    They were also banned from overcrowding benches, toy fighting, and the hurling of ‘objects’.

    Parents reacted with anger, accusing the school of trying to turn children into ‘robots.’

    Miss Din, who joined the school as assistant head in 2019 before being promoted to the top job, apologised and said cuddling would be allowed.

    Headteacher Andrea Dinn admitted parents 'were right' about the ban and said the rule was 'just not helpful in getting the balance we were trying to get right'

    Headteacher Andrea Dinn admitted parents ‘were right’ about the ban and said the rule was ‘just not helpful in getting the balance we were trying to get right’

    Parents accused teachers at Mossley Hollins High School in Greater Manchester of a 'complete failure to understand human needs and behaviour.' One pupil said that the rules were 'unfair' and 'ridiculous' after she had to ask a teacher for permission to hug a friend when she hurt herself

    Parents accused teachers at Mossley Hollins High School in Greater Manchester of a ‘complete failure to understand human needs and behaviour.’ One pupil said that the rules were ‘unfair’ and ‘ridiculous’ after she had to ask a teacher for permission to hug a friend when she hurt herself

    In a message on the school’s website she said: ‘I wanted to write to apologise to those students and parents who have taken the time to communicate constructively, with the school, expressing your concerns.

    ‘The ideas such parents and students gave have been kind and very helpful. Thank you. You understood what we were trying to do but had reservations about what the article said. You were right.

    ‘The school remains determined to have a way of working that helps those youngsters who have missed out on so much socialisation in school due to lockdown absence.

    ‘However, our previous “no contact” phrase and the examples we gave in our article in the last Newsflash [school newsletter] were not right and I take responsibility for that.’

    She added: ‘I have met with our head students to listen to them to hear what we are trying to promote and get right, especially at break and lunchtime.

    ‘We agree that appropriate human contact is a good thing and brings warmth to human friendships, should both sides be in favour of it. Heavy-handed contact or inappropriate contact in schools, as in the wider world, is not.

    SCHOOL KEEP CLEAR... of each other: Pupils at Mossley Hollins High School in Greater Manchester were briefly banned from hugging, high-fiving, and holding hands after they implemented a strict no contact policy

    SCHOOL KEEP CLEAR… of each other: Pupils at Mossley Hollins High School in Greater Manchester were briefly banned from hugging, high-fiving, and holding hands after they implemented a strict no contact policy

    ‘Our rule has been made much clearer: students should not use “heavy-handed contact”. This applies outside the building just as it does inside.

    ‘I apologise, once again, that the article last week was just not helpful in getting the balance we were trying to get right, between mature interaction and support and care, and caused upset: this was never the intention and I am sorry that it has caused so much disruption.’

    In its original announcement, the school said: ‘To further improve out school culture, there is now a no contact rule in place. This means that no student should ever be touching another student.

    ‘No carrying of other students, cuddling, or play fighting will be tolerated. Students must treat others with respect. All students should show good school citizenship at all times (including breaktime and lunchtime).

    ‘Respect, helping others and following all school rules are necessary qualities for success.’

    It added: ‘This new rule has been introduced to ensure that everyone feels safe in school, has a supportive environment in and outside of lessons, demonstrates mutual respect and are kind to each other, has a positive attitude towards each other and has healthy relationships with their peers.’

    Under the heading: ‘What does ‘no contact’ actually mean for our students?’ the school warned pupils to ‘always be safe by being careful and showing courtesy.’ It said there should ‘no toy fighting or rough play’. 

    ‘Never push or pull others. Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Physical contact and verbal abuse to others are not permitted. No jumping on each other, cuddling and no carrying of each other. No throwing of any objects. No holding places or jumping in line when queuing for lunch. Sit properly on benches and do not overcrowd.’

    It concluded: ‘This new rule has been made very clear to all of our students so that they all understand. Teaching and support staff have led presentations this week explaining our expectations so that every student understands why we are implementing this rule.’

    The school whose Latin motto: Floret Qui Laborat means: ‘He or she who labours, prospers’ was rated as outstanding following its last Oftsed inspection in November 2014.