Creativity and Freedom at St Martin’s

The impact of the Story Massage Programme at St Martin’s is described as “life-changing” by head teacher, Donna McKay, who highlights creativity and freedom as key benefits. And the passion and vision of staff trained in the Story Massage Programme has been recognised with the prestigious award of Centre of Excellence.

Integration and Interaction

The school community at St Martins consists of both a mainstream and Additional Support for Learning (ASL) provision, catering for learners with developmental stages ranging from 9 months to 14 years. There is a culmination of 32 different languages spoken at the school. Most of the learners are English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners. Over 90% of the school have barriers to their learning.

“The Story Massage Programme has provided all of our pupils the opportunity to interact with each other in a respectful, kind way regardless of their communication or learning needs. It is an activity which encourages integration across our two sectors and reinforces tolerance and respect.” Donna McKay, Head Teacher

There are now 13 members of staff trained in the Story Massage Programme and it is embedded across the entire campus playing a vital part in the school’s curriculum. Teachers incorporate it within classes, which range in size from 8 – 27 pupils, depending on individual needs. It is also used within whole school assemblies and at home with families through in-school Family Learning sessions and their online homework facility.

Creativity and Freedom at School Assemblies

The school have recently introduced ‘Story Massage of the Fortnight’. Each class takes turns in choosing a song and then working together to create a video to include the Story Massage strokes. The videos are presented to the assembly for the entire school to enjoy and participate in. This has helped with engagement as children have a greater sense of ownership and investment in the process. It has also inspired more learners to take part in Story Massage sessions.

“The Story Massage Programme affords children the opportunity to regulate and co-regulate and strongly reinforces the message of consent and positive touch. Our school is calm, nurturing and welcoming. One of the best aspects about the Story Massage approach is the freedom it gives our children. They have real ownership and enjoy the freedom and creativity to develop new massage stories. The impact of this programme is life changing.” Donna McKay, Head Teacher

The ’Story Massage of the Fortnight’ idea was developed following the benefits of the programme with a nurture group of seven boys with varying needs including autism, communication difficulties, sensory processing issues and anxiety. Sharing massage stories helped the boys develop a greater sense of connection and improved social skills as they began to communicate and collaborate with each other. They decided to showcase a Story Massage video at a school assembly, and it proved so successful that others wanted to join in too.

Feedback from a Nurture Teacher

“Sharing massage stories within our whole school assemblies allows learners of all ages and backgrounds to interact, and builds trust, respect and positive relationships. We share a massage story at the end of assembly as we know this will help ensure a smooth and calm transition back to class.” Jodie Lindsay, Nurture Teacher

“We have noticed how the Story Massage Programme has improved positive peer relationships. In one class, some learners were struggling with turn-taking, sharing resources and respecting personal space. The programme has helped them to become more cooperative and respectful towards each other. They can communicate their needs to peers and they are beginning to apply these skills to other situations such as during group work or free play.” Jodie Lindsay, Nurture Teacher

“The key to our successful implementation of the Story Massage Programme is to be creative, flexible and responsive to needs and interests. Our children enjoy stories and songs that are customised for them, and love to be included in choosing the stories, songs and movements. Keep it fun and enjoyable, encourage the children to be creative, then evaluate and adapt!” Jodie Lindsay, Nurture Teacher

Centres of Excellence 2023

You can read more about our other two new Centres of Excellence 2023.

Are you inspired by the benefits of the Story Massage Programme at St Martin’s? Find out all about the Story Massage Programme online course here: Story Massage Training Online.