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Riversdale School implements Mindfulness Programme amidst Controversy

Riversdale School

Ten pupils were pulled from Riversdale School in Southland after a mindfulness programme was implemented in early 2015. Most of the parents made their decision based on religious belief, on the basis that the programme equated with religious studies, specifically Buddhism.  Some were so upset they made formal complaints to the Ministry of Education.  They made their decision despite the fact that the programme is optional and there is already an optional bible studies programme at the school.  However, the mindfulness programme involves pupils taking 20 to 30 minutes out each day for relaxation and reflection and those parents argue that this takes too much learning time out of the day.  Those who opt out of the programme do buddy reading instead.

The school undertook the programme as part of measures to curb bullying among other benefits and they believe that ninety percent of the community are behind the programme.  The school role is about 140 pupils making the loss of 10 felt quite hard.  Such reactions from the community make implementing relaxation techniques in schools a challenging prospect.