East Ayrshire

Dougie Mirfin's experience


Hi, my name is Dougie Mirfin and I am a Principal Teacher working with the East Ayrshire Support Team (ASN) based in the Kilmarnock area. My main role over the last 10 years has been to provide social and emotional behaviour support to challenging and vulnerable pupils across the authority. I’ve found the Massage In Schools Programme a huge success in terms of improving the mental health of pupils including more challenging individuals that I have supported. I’d like to take this opportunity to mention how the Massage In Schools Programme has developed in East Ayrshire following my training to become an MISP instructor.

I was incredibly fortunate when a former colleague gave me her place on the Massage in Schools Instructor Course a few years ago. The training was delivered over 2 days and I can honestly say that it was the best course I have ever attended. I felt the immediate benefits of the massage programme and couldn’t wait to deliver the routine to children in East Ayrshire schools.

Over the last couple of years I have delivered CLPL sessions through our CPD Gateway to staff across the authority to give them a taster of the programme. Primary/Special Schools and Early Childhood Centres then asked me to deliver the programme to pupils in their establishments. The feedback from pupils, staff and parents has been tremendous following MISP. We have found that this programme encourages parents to come into school and join their children in learning and enjoying a very nurturing time as they perform the routine on one another.

Increasing referrals

I began to receive more and more referrals from schools and recently did a whole school implementation of the programme from P1-7. It became a priority to get more staff trained in delivering massage as I was unable to deliver the programme to all the schools sending referrals. In February 2016, another 20 teachers received MISP training and are now able to teach pupils across the authority. Ideally I’d like to think that MISP can eventually be delivered in most, if not all education establishments in East Ayrshire. Trained staff will form a working group in the authority to refresh ourselves with the massage routine, develop materials for training and deliver additional CPD sessions to encourage others to attend the instructor training that we hope to buy in later in 2016.

Nowadays, all schools are expected to have achieved and to maintain health promoting schools status, which involves a whole school approach to promoting the physical, social, spiritual, mental and emotional wellbeing of all pupils and staff. I firmly believe that The Massage in Schools Programme addresses the 4 capacities of CfE perfectly, with its development of positive communication, its inclusive nature, its ethos of respect for self and others and its proven effect on concentration levels.

I would encourage you to become an MISP instructor and get the programme up and running within your own authorities. It is my favourite day of the week delivering this programme and the benefits to pupils, whole schools, families and the wider community is fantastic! This programme will improve the wellbeing of all children in your schools and I have been amazed at how caring some of the most challenging pupils can be to their peers. It really has been a wonderful journey so far and in the future I’d like to develop my own skills further and become an official trainer of MISP to share my experiences and successes with staff across East Ayrshire and perhaps wider.

Many Thanks, Dougie March 2016

Comments on MISP

“After such a successful peer massage programme within the centre we are keen to run this again. The impact has been enormous for the morning children who participated in the programme.”


“Peer Massage has been a very enjoyable and worthwhile learning experience for all pupils, staff and parents who participated in it. Would recommend to colleagues!”

Staff at Shortlees Early Childhood Centre


“My class absolutely loved their training. It has been one of the best things I have ever been part of in my 29 years teaching. I look forward to continuing the MISP with my children.”

Teacher - Dunlop Primary

“The positive feedback from parents has been fantastic. They are looking forward to coming and joining in with their children.”

Teacher – Drongan Primary

“Really relaxing and peaceful. Will try this at home, thanks again.”

“Really loved the peer massage and C. has been doing it at home.”

“Good way to spend a quality 5 minutes with kids without distractions.”

“Think it’s enjoyable and relaxing. The children enjoy it.”

“I will definitely be doing this at home.”

“I’ve enjoyed putting into practice things he has been telling me when he comes home. Nice to know how he has been interacting with other children.”

Parents from Shortlees Early Childhood Centre

Pupil comments on MISP

Feedback from pupils from various establishments



“I gave my Gran a massage and she said that it was the best thing that the school has ever taught me.”

“My Gran wasn’t feeling well and when she was lying down I gave her a massage to make her feel better.”

“I was feeling quite worried about something when I came to school today but the massage has helped and now I feel calmer.”

“I love massage, it helps with the knots in my back.”

“The massage makes me feel very relaxed.”

“I really want to take part because it looks fun but my mum and dad won’t let me.”

“My family all like the massage and I might get some pocket money for doing this at home.”

“My mum is a physiotherapist and she loves that we are learning this in school. I get to massage her at home.”

“I feel tired and relaxed after massage.”

“It just makes me feel great.”

“My wee sister fell and hurt herself. I did the bunny hops massage on her hand and it helped to cheer her up.”

“This is now my favourite day of the week because I get peer massage.”