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Head teacher insists teachers must handshake EVERY pupil

The handshaking idea was brought in by new headteacher Amanda Simpson (pictured), who became the first female head of Tunbridge Wells Grammar School this month.

A grammar school has introduced a new policy where pupils have to shake their teacher's hand before each lesson - raising fears about the spread of germs.

The idea was brought in by new headteacher Amanda Simpson, who became the first female head of Tunbridge Wells Grammar School this month.

Some teachers have started bringing in hand sanitiser to prevent bacteria being passed from the school's pupils as they will have to shake hands around 150 times a day.

Mrs Simpson defended the policy and said it was introduced because she wanted pupils to feel 'welcomed and appreciated'.

She also said it had proved a success at her previous school, a mixed comprehensive in Luton.

Mrs Simpson defended the policy and said it was introduced because she wanted pupils to feel 'welcomed and appreciated'

However one parent said the new policy was unwise as winter neared with its seasonal threat of bugs and flu.

They told Kent Live: 'It will be interesting to see what happens if there's an outbreak of Norovirus. 

'I assume it was introduced because the new head wanted to introduce some element of respect - but I wouldn't think that sort of thing would make any difference.' 

But Mrs Simpson, a former PE and dance teacher, said she had received no 'negative reaction' from pupils at what is one of the largest of the remaining grammar schools in England.

She said: 'I and other members of staff greet pupils with a handshake and a smile every lesson because we want them to feel welcome and appreciated.

'We have had no negative reaction from pupils and they seem to appreciate the gesture. 

'I introduced this in my previous school without any complaint and without any increase in the rate of infection, so I believe the concerns are unwarranted.

'Although we keep the school as clean as possible, pupils will inevitably touch handrails, doorknobs and other items which other boys have previously touched during the day, so to focus on contact through a simple handshake is strange.

'In any event, hand sanitisers will be available throughout the school for anyone with concerns about infection.' 

When she was announced as the new head teacher of the school that has 1,200 pupils she said she wanted to 'prepare students academically and as young people living in the 21st century'.

Some teachers at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School (pictured) have taken to bringing in hand sanitiser in a bid to prevent bacteria being passed between the school's pupils

A study by scientists at Aberystwyth University in Wales found a hand shake transferred more bacteria than other forms of hand-on-hand action.

Following the findings they called for the widespread adoption of the fist bump instead, especially during flu outbreaks.

The study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, showed a handshake transferred 10 times as many bacteria as a meeting of fists. 

Dr Dave Whitworth, a reader in Biochemistry at Aberystwyth University told MailOnline: 'Whether it causes an increase in the incidence of infectious disease will depend on how well and often pupils/staff get to wash their hands. 

'Presumably, as shaking is reported to happen at the start of lessons, shakers would not then be able to wash their hands until a long time later, during which time they will almost certainly touch their faces, which is a major route of infection. 

'People touch their faces surprisingly frequently, and the young do it more often than older people. 

'Handshake bans are happening in healthcare settings because of the increased risk and sensitivity to the causative agents of infectious disease and a desire to reduce spread as much as possible. If all the pupils are fit and healthy, then there may be no health consequences amongst them, but the compulsory handshaking will make it more important to prevent pupils/staff with an illness from attending. 

'The spread of disease will extend beyond the school and into the community. Good hygiene is key to stop the spread of infectious disease, and alcohol rubs are known to not be effective against all microbes, and they can be over-used.'  

Professor Hugh Pennington, a leading bacteriologist, said teachers were at greater risk of picking up viruses than pupils.

He said: 'The best people to spread viruses like flu in the community are the children because they get close to each other and they are not to good at washing their hands. 

'Flu will get on to their hands but flu does not affect children in the same way as adults. It will be the teachers and when they get home poor old grandad sitting on the sofa - who are at risk.

'But if this hand shaking policy was associated with a hand washing policy I would be very happy indeed.'  

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