Special Needs Strategies for Safe Learning Environments

Special Needs Strategies

Adapted Communications and Last-Resort Physical Alternatives for Creating Safe and Caring Environments

Our SEND Training has 7 distinct topics to help your team to perform under pressure when the children you look after are resisting your requests, becoming distressed or presenting dangerous behaviour.

SEND Training  Topic 1) Understanding Behaviour 

Staff will be able to use a common framework to describe the phases, intensity and risk level of childrens’ behaviour they are dealing with.

Our aim in this session will be to ensure that all staff attending the session have a framework of understanding in relation to the escalation and de-escalation of childrens’ behaviour during an incident.  We will use the Kaplan/Wheeler curve as a key touchstone upon which we will layer information about:

  • Childrens’ Coping Behaviours
  • Triggers of Escalated Behaviour and Cues
  • Escalation-phase characteristics
  • Crisis-phase options
  • Insights into the Post-Crisis phase
  • Post-Crisis recording and reporting

SEND Training Topic 2) The Social Environment You Create

Staff will show an understanding of the underlying ethos which must drive behaviour management throughout the environment, fostering a common approach to interactions and communications which consistently strengthen core values of “treating each person with dignity by showing them respect” in every encounter.

  1. Establishing the Social Contract for you and the children to co-create
  2. “How We Do Business” maxims for effective communication – for everyone.
  3. The goal of Voluntary Compliance, Cooperation or Collaboration
  4. The ‘Gateway Behaviours’ Concept

SEND Training Topic 3) Educator Behaviours

Staff will explore and demonstrate fundamental models of communication which demonstrate the value-base established in the previous session.   Once we have decided “How we do business?” there must be specific verbalisation strategies which consistently demonstrate this ethos.

  1. The Platinum Rule
  2. The Five Maxims for Effective Communication
  3. The ‘Showtime’ Concept for Professional Presence
  4. Having a Pre-Planned, Practiced Response in Mind

SEND Training Topic 4) Non-Escalation and De-Escalation Tactics

Staff will be able to apply a range of different verbal and non-verbal tactics which are non-physical, to reduce the risk of escalation or to defuse situations which are escalating.

Our aim in this session will be to establish the basic elements of good communication (how to show people respect in every encounter) and then build upon those to enable staff to use The Special Needs Strategies (from our ‘Verbal Defense and Influence’ programme) to manage crisis episodes with children more effectively. For example:

  1. Initial Contacts (e.g. when challenging a child’s behaviour)
  2. Dealing with Verbal Abuse or Intimidation
  3. Managing Resistance to Request
  4. Listening in order to Lead Behaviour

Crisis Interventions for Children with Special Needs:

  1. Reduce Stimulation
  2. Isolate and Support
  3. Using Adapted Communication
  4. Manage the Unmet Need

SEND Training Topic 5) Understanding the Legal Power to use Reasonable Force

Staff will be able to describe the universal legal principles which underline the right to use physical force in different scenarios and to know when it is right to (and when it is wrong to) use physical force with a child.

  1. Understand and consider the right to use force and duties/scenarios which may require force
  2. Have a decision-making framework which will guide them to reasoned action in a crisis
  3. provide for them a structured way of describing their actions post-incident in a report

SEND Training Topic 6) Understanding the Risks involved in Physical Interventions

Staff will be able to recognise situations of high-risk and to avoid introducing actions into a scenario which would heighten the risk of serious injury or death during an incident.

It is a fact that when a team engage in physical intervention with a vulnerable person that one of the results could be a life-changing injury, the ending of a career or indeed a fatality.   Our aim in this session will be to inform staff as to these dangers and to highlight the hazardous actions which could increase the risk of these results happening.

By raising the awareness of staff of the actions that they should avoid taking, we can drastically reduce the risk that any team who has undergone this training would take these very serious risks with a child’s safety and will make better decisions about when they should withdraw or change their approach in a high-risk situation.

The session raises important questions and provides staff answers to:

  1. What is Positional Asphyxiation?
  2. What are the medical factors which influence outcomes?
  3. What are the signs of physiological distress that we need to be aware of?
  4. What should we do if we see these signs?
  5. What are the restraint methods we should AVOID in a situation?

SEND Training Topic 7) Carrying out Safer Holding and Physical Intervention Procedures

Staff will be able to apply the principles of safe intervention with children in a number of key scenarios which often occur.

We will explore and practice with your staff appropriate and effective methods for school staff:

  • Verbalisation strategies (in brief) for gaining compliance and de-escalation
  • How to safely approach, prompt and escort a child from place to place
  • How to gain control of a child who is at risk of harming themselves or others (lashing out)
  • How to hold and immobilise a child during the de-escalation process
  • Protection from Biting, Kicking and Spitting during the holding period
  • Standing, Seated and Kneeling variations for the control of different scenarios/persons
  • Self-Protection and Disengagement method for high-risk scenarios
This is our Special Needs Strategies course for SEND contexts and teams.  

  • Establishing consistency in response
  • Optimising Educator and Carer Behaviours
  • Adapted Communication Strategies for Non-Escalation
  • De-Escalation using Adapted Communication Strategies
  • Crisis Communications
  • Last-Resort Physical Alternatives when Words Alone Fail

WHAT:  a tailored course for your school team which is based on National Level Guidance on the Management of Challenging /Distressed Behaviour combined with a tried-and-tested programme of crisis communications and including last-resort physical alternatives for where word alone fail and when safety needs to be re-established in a situation.

WHEN:   on a day of your choice an INSET or Twilight session

WHERE:  at your school, in a classroom or gym hall large enough to carry out the training safely

HOW LONG:     See the FORMATS tab for options which suit you.

WHO:  Teachers, Learning & Support Assistants, Deputy Heads, Head Teachers, Governors can all benefit from this course.  Our typical groups are teams of up to – or multiples of – 12 staff.   We can by arrangement train whole-school groups.

WHY:  Matched to your SEND context and needs  Led by Professional Special Needs StrategiesTrainer  Legally Audited to match DofE Positive Handling Guidance   Values Dignity and Respect for appropriate communications and interventions where necessary ✓ Safeguards Children’s rights   Offers School Staff Practical Options for scenarios  Compliant with Positive Handling Government Regulations  Value for Your Investment

Other course options include:

Our SEND Training Programme takes 2 days to complete

Good practice guidance from national-level bodies has recommended that in any SEND Training programme to manage challenging or distressed behaviour which includes physical components, the ratio of de-escalation skills to physical alternatives should be 2:1

In our experience, a two-day programme would fit these recommendations well.

We offer flexible options for training your staff:

We would deliver these topics and practice them with your team as follows:

Day 1:   Communication Strategies and Crisis De-escalation for persons with Autism / Learning Disabilities

  • Topic 1) Understanding Behaviour  
  • Topic 2) The Classroom Environment
  • Topic 3) Optimising Educator Behaviours 
  • Topic 4) Non-Escalation and De-Escalation Tactics (including Autism/LD-specific tactics)

Day 2:   The Law, Risk and Guidance for Physical Interventions with Vulnerable People, with Physical Skills Development

  • Topic 5) Understanding Legal Powers and Duties in managing violence
  • Topic 6) Understanding the Risks involved in Physical Interventions  
  • Topic 7) Physical Skills Development for Appropriate Physical Interventions

If needed, we can deliver our short-format blended course for Day 2, which is supported by our unique and in-house developed online learning courseware. >> http://www.positivehandling.co.uk/training/positive-handling-twilight-blended-online/

The need for both skillsets in SEND Training for managing challenging or distressed behaviour:

Verbalisation skills, when used by well-trained professionals, can and do help to de-escalate situations where this is possible.  However, when dealing with people with learning disabilities, behaviour can be unpredictable and there are times when words alone fail to maintain or create the necessary safety.   Organisational duty-of-care issues to both employees and learners mean that the risks from potential or forseeable physical violence must be controlled – therefore there is a well-established legal need for staff to be competent in the necessary physical skills, proportionate to the risks in the service.

Our goal in the training will be to emphasise at all times that verbalisation and communication strategies are primary and that physical alternatives are used as a last resort.   Our belief is that when staff have confidence in their physical skills for protection and holding in addition to their other skills, they will persevere for longer, be more creative and present a more professional presence to their clients who are in crisis.

“Thanks gerard for an enjoyable, informative and useful training course. i now feel that i have some tools that i can use that are effective, safe and legal.  The day after the training i was in a situation which required some physical intervention. i mentally went through the check list (necessary? any other option? last resort?)    I was then able to use a technique that gerard had shown us which quickly calmed the person down and resolved the situation. great!”

Special Needs Behaviour Support Specialist – Suffolk UK – September 2016

“Gerard was very professional at all times.  Recommended to our Head Teachers’ local delivery group – this training would benefit all of our local schools.  Excellent.  Thank you.”

Deputy Head Teacher, Bedfordshire, UK

“Having participated in 3 different training providers for positive handling in my career of working with children with challenging behaviour, this was the best in terms of meeting our needs and installing confidence in dealing with the physical side of managing behaviour. Many thanks.”

Behaviour Management Consultant in Essex – Sept 2016

Our Course Feedback from Dynamis course learners from January-December 2016

Were your expectations about the course met?

  • Exceeded 52.28%
  • Fulfilled 47.45%

Did the trainer observe good Health and Safety practices?

Yes 98.93%

Were exercises on your training course conducted safely?

Yes 98.66%

How did you rate the Dynamis instructor’s knowledge and competence?

  • Excellent 75.87%
  • Very Good 21.98%
  • Good 2.68%

Were all your questions answered comprehensively by your trainer?

Yes 98.39%

Was the training delivered using a mix of delivery styles which enabled you to learn effectively?

Yes 99.46%

Was the course of the right duration for you to gain the skills and knowledge you needed?

  • Slightly too long 10.99%
  • Just the right duration 72.12%
  • Slightly too short 13.40%

Were the techniques and tactics you learned appropriate to the real scenarios you will – or might forseeably – face in your work?

Yes 95.98%

Were the theory and knowledge components of the course helpful for you professionally?

Yes 98.93%


Pace and delivery were great; Gerard was happy to answer all questions and observations throughout. His skills and knowledge were professionally shared at a level appropriate to our setting regarding current potential and real concerns. Our health and safety was clearly a priority. All staff gained significantly from involvement – thank you.
SEN Teaching Assistant

Primary School, Kent

“The course was excellent in his contents and it’s delivery. I found the techniques very useful. I had previously received training from an alternative provider, this time I was pleased that a more detailed support plan was given for working with younger children. I enjoyed getting involved and trying out the techniques. Thank you.”
Deputy Head Teacher


This is the first course of this nature that the school has ever run, the training was outstanding and well delivered. A longer course may be beneficial as time goes on as the child in question get older.
Learning Support Assistant


Call 0844 812 9795 or send your enquiry here:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.