“It is advisable that at least one member of staff in every school has received recent training, by expert-accredited providers in physical intervention and restraint techniques.”
Ed Balls – Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families 2010
The use of reasonable force is a last resort option made available for everyone, including teachers and support staff. Schools need to provide clear and accurate information and guidance to their staff with regard to their restraint policy, thus minimising confusion, mistakes and potential litigation. Your school should have a fit for purpose policy in relation to the use of reasonable force.
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 enables school staff to use “such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to prevent a pupil from doing or continuing to do” any of the following:
• Committing any offence (or, for a pupil under the age of criminal responsibility, what would be an offence for an older pupil)
• Causing personal injury to any person (including the pupil themselves)
• Causing damage to the property of any person (including the pupil themselves)
• Prejudicing the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school, and among any pupils receiving education at the school, whether during a teaching session or otherwise.
The act also defines to whom the power applies as follows:
• Any teacher who works at the school
• Any other person whom the headteacher has authorised to have control or charge of pupils. Specific mention is made of support staff, teaching assistants, learning support assistants, learning mentors and lunchtime supervisors.
It is crucial that support staff are made aware of their school’s policy, and if necessary provided with suitable restraint training and taught the use of reasonable force.
The power to use reasonable force applies whether pupils are on school premises or elsewhere, as long as they are in the lawful control or charge of a staff member, including school visits.
The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance clarifying the contents of The Education and Inspections Act 2006 titled ‘The use of reasonable force to control or restrain pupils’. This was re-released in July 2013. It details how to implement the provisions the Act lays out and advises schools to adopt the approach set out in the guidance. It also advises all schools to have a policy about the use of force to control or restrain pupils.
Policy and procedures
The Department for Education guidance states that it is “good practice for a school to have an explicit policy on the use of reasonable force to control or restrain pupils”. Such a policy should be created following consultation with governors, staff (including recognised trade unions), pupils, and those with parental responsibility. Consultation with experts in the field of reasonable force would also be good practice, enabling the policy to be legally accurate and fit for purpose.
We advise that union representatives within the school should ensure that their school develops a policy on the use of reasonable force or revises any existing policy, and that they play a full role in the consultation process and the formulation of the policy.
The Department for Education guidance highlights that no school should have a policy of ‘no physical contact’ or ‘hands off’. Some schools have previously developed policies with such an ethos, however this can directly inhibit a teacher in their duty of care to pupils, other staff and the general public. Union representatives and headteachers should bear this paragraph of the guidance in mind when reviewing their school’s policy.
Restraint Training for teachers and support staff
COVIC Training Solutions, along with many unions believe the provision of fit for purpose restraint training for teachers and support staff is essential and should be compulsory. It should incorporate guidance and information on health and safety matters, such as risk assessments, the legislation surrounding the use of reasonable force, and many other factors we must be aware of when engaging in restraint and restraint training.
School managers must also consider training for all new members of staff and refresher training at suitable intervals to ensure that staff update and refresh their knowledge and understanding of the legal issues, their powers, techniques and techniques revisions, and the school’s powers.
COVIC Training Solutions provide fit for purpose restraint training for teachers and support staff as well as other courses designed for schools and alternative education centres.
Need further advice?
The team at COVIC Training Solutions is here to help. For impartial, no obligation advice and guidance regarding restraint training for schools, teachers and support staff please get in touch using the contact page or phone 01507 306399. We are here to help.