Pupils have been banned from having romantic relationships and hugging at a school in Essex as part of new rules to make them “focus on their learning”.
Hylands School in Chelmsford has said they “do not allow” romantic relationships between pupils and that physical contact could lead to “inappropriate” touching.
Parents have been critical of the hands off policy but the school has said most parents and pupils are supportive and that it “engenders mutual respect and encourages pupils to behave professionally as any future employer would expect”.
A letter sent by assistant headteacher Catherine McMillan, seen by EssexLive, says they do not tolerate “any physical contact” between members of the school community.
One parent at the school claimed that parents had not been told about the new policy prior to the letter, which was sent on Jan 9, and only heard about it from their children.
‘Not teaching students about healthy relationships’
They said: “I couldn’t believe it. In this day and age, I agree that inappropriate touching – hitting and punching – of course has to be dealt with. But they’re not teaching students how to have a healthy relationship.
“The inference is that you can’t touch anyone. Children won’t know what is or isn’t appropriate, and the ability to empathise with their peers is being taken away. I have a daughter and her and her friends greet each other with a hug, but if they do that now they’ll [face being] put into isolation.”
The letter sent by the school said that “any aggressive physical contact, hugging, holding hands, slapping someone, etc.” would not be tolerated, adding, “this is in order to keep your child safe”.