UK school bans all romantic relationships and 'physical contact' between pupils

11 January 2023, 11:10

A school has been criticised for their new rules
A school has been criticised for their new rules. Picture: Getty Images/Google Maps
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Hylands secondary school in Essex has introduced new rules banning students from hugging and having relationships.

A secondary school in Essex has banned all romantic relationships between pupils in a bid to ‘encourage professional behaviour’.

Under the strict new rules, Hylands School in Chelmsford has also said they ‘do not allow’ physical contact.

In a letter reportedly sent by assistant headteacher Miss Catherine McMillan, seen by EssexLive, the school said they will not tolerate hugging and holding hands even between friends.

According to the publication, the letter continued: “This is in order to keep your child safe. If your child is touching somebody else, whether they are consenting or not, anything could happen.

Physical contact has been banned at a school in Essex
Physical contact has been banned at a school in Essex. Picture: Getty Images

“It could lead to an injury, make someone feel very uncomfortable, or someone being touched inappropriately.

“While we want your children to make really positive friendships, hopefully lifelong ones, we don't allow romantic relationships at Hylands. Your child is of course able to have these relationships with your permission outside of school.

“We want your child to focus on their learning while in school and we don't want them to be distracted by relationship issues."

Parents have since complained about the rules, with one telling the publication it is ‘human instinct’ for friends to touch each other.

"Human instinct is that if your friend fell over you might help them up,” they said.

Pupils aren't allowed to hug at a school in Essex
Pupils aren't allowed to hug at a school in Essex. Picture: Getty Images

“But now they're having their privileges threatened such as losing their lunch or morning breaks, or even isolation for the day - which is all so draconian.

"There's been a huge outcry from other parents. Partly because of the lack of communication with parents, all we've been told is what students tell us. But it's also such an archaic approach and is not needed in this day and age.

“After the pandemic, where everyone was starved of human contact, you are now setting everything back. It's not going to help students' mental health either."

Executive headteacher Ms Maggie Callaghan has since responded to the criticism saying the school ‘ seeks to work closely with parents in order to ensure that our pupils are safe and happy’.

She added: “Most parents and pupils support this policy which engenders mutual respect and encourages pupils to behave professionally as any future employer would expect." has reached out to Hylands School for comment.

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