In 2010 the then Department for Children, Schools and Families issued guidance on the use of force to control or restraint pupils, for schools in England.
The new guidance began with a strong statement in the Executive Summary, which follows advice we at Dynamis have been offering organisations for many years:
“All school staff members have a legal power to use reasonable force to prevent pupils committing a criminal offence, injuring themselves or others or damaging property, and to maintain good order and discipline.
Staff members can sometimes be worried that using force will lead to false allegations of unreasonable or unlawful conduct in the form of a complaint or legal action. But if the force used is reasonable all staff will have a robust defence against any accusations.”
This is in direct contrast to the attitudes we have seen from some inspectors and advisors in the past and represents a major clarification by the Department about the responsibilities schools have to ensure that their staff are educated about their rights and responsibilities in regards to use of force.
The document goes on to state:
“An effective and credible use of force policy is essential to a well-run school. The policy should be communicated to all staff, pupils and parents.
Schools should never seek to inhibit the ability of staff to use force by adopting a ‘no contact’ policy. The power to use force helps ensure pupil and school safety and the risk with a no-contact policy is that it might place a member of staff in breach of their duty of care towards a pupil, or prevent them taking an action needed to prevent a pupil causing injury to others.”
‘No contact’ policies can actually infringe on the rights of staff to protect themselves or others in circumstances of imminent danger and, although appearing ethical and reasonable, can in fact increase risk to managers and organisations who promote these policies.
In regards to training, the advice and guidance offered states that:
“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 (in larger schools this might be two or more). However, it should not be assumed that trained members of staff should be solely responsible for dealing with all incidents where physical intervention or restraint is required.”
Such training and advice is available on our full-day courses for Positive Handling in Schools, detailed on our website using the links above – please get in touch if you would like to discuss our training!