Managing Behaviour in Secondary Schools

  • Redirecting Behaviour with Words
  • Campus Safety and Security
  • De-escalation of 'Fights'
  • Prompting and Escorting

A highly popular training course to create safe classrooms and safeguard children.

We train your team using a blended approach - 90 minutes of self-paced learning for them in their own time, THEN we visit with you in-person for an intensive 3-hour training experience which is scenario-driven by the specific issues you face as a school.

  • De-Escalation
  • Managing Behaviour
  • Duty of Care
  • Balancing Risk 
  • Dept Education Guidance
  • Best Practice
  • Common Scenarios

Our  training covers a variety of the most common scenarios which staff in school face when they must deal with behaviour or risk, and gives straight answers to frequently asked questions.

Should I ever attempt to restrain a child by myself?

What is good practice if I see two children fighting?

Should I remove a child who is climbing on top of bookcases?

What can we do about children who 'lose it' suddenly in a classroom?

Our experience in Secondary Schools and Colleges...

Behaviourally, we know that adolescents in a secondary environment:
– experience social status (the hierarchy, the pecking order) as a major driver for their behaviour
– are hugely influenced by group dynamics, are sensitive to in-group and out-group interactions
– when in conflict are influenced powerfully by the audience who is watching the incident
– if given an opportunity to withdraw and disengage from conflict, will take that option rather than ‘melt down’ in front of their peers.

The forseeable results of a poorly managed physical intervention at Secondary Schools and Colleges could be:
– a child with a life-changing injury
– a staff member with a life-changing injury
– career-ending legal proceedings against the staff member
– career-limiting prosecution of management decisions

To respond safely, your staff must know these fundamentals

– balance duty of care for your staff's own safety and for the children and their colleagues.
– keep everyone safe, verbally if they can and physically only if they must
– make split-second decisions about Necessity and Proportionality
– employ techniques which have been medically audited for use with children and young people
– avoid the use of dangerous and prohibited methods of restraint
– follow the Department of Education guidance on Use of Force (11 pages of succinct content)
– manage their concern of post-incident allegations so that they respond appropriately
– write a legally robust incident report after the encounter

Dealing with Intimidating or Abusive Behaviour

It can be hard for staff to deploy appropriate de-escalation strategies where abuse directed towards them become very personal, or potentially damaging to their career, or over time wear away at the teacher’s professional presence (again with the issues of the audience, peer-oversight and the horizontal conflict that is often present in pressurised workplaces). 

This is where giving time to staff to practice their responses to such behaviour, while overlaying some insight into conflict triggers for adolescents and young people, can be hugely valuable in giving management at a school the confidence that staff (both teaching and non-teaching) have the tools to deal with behaviour confidently and effectively. 

On our courses we discuss the need for a ‘Showtime’ mindset to prepare for these critical moments, when the professionalism of the staff performance must shine through as they employ Redirections to deal with problem behaviour without escalating into direct conflict.

Breaking Up Fights?

In our experience in helping many colleges and second-level institutions, it is pretty rare for secondary-level pupils to physically assault a member of staff.

Far more likely in this context is the problem of student-student violence, where a member of staff becomes aware of a physical encounter between two (or more!) students and realises, in a critical moment, that they may have to do something about the situation presented to them.

In situations like this, your staff really need to be standing on firm ground with respect to their Duty of Care:

  • whose safety is a priority? 
  • how to we prioritise action?
  • must I physically intervene to show professionalism?
  • could I stand back and still be upholding my duty of care?

These questions are absolutely critical to the safe resolution of ‘students fighting’ and taking time on a training day to investigate the issues and answer your team’s questions is really beneficial.

Managing the audience becomes a critical skill in these situations at Secondary Schools and Colleges and is a terrifically difficult cognitive and psychomotor skill! Being at the centre of a large group of very aroused teenagers, who are upset about their friends winning or losing a physical fight, shouting and swearing and wanting to get involved…it takes some pre-planned and practiced responses from staff and the only way to develop those skills is by carrying out the appropriate ‘fire drills’ with your team to see how things roll!

The issues of Knife Crime and Gang Affiliation

An issue  in our secondary environments is the growing threat of young people using edged weapons and knives to settle disagreements they have, or to climb a social hierarchy in a ‘status seeking’ display

From stories dating all the way back to the murder of London head teacher Philip Lawrence, the the more recent stories about supply teacher Victor Uzomah who was stabbed in Bradford and of course the murder of Ann Maguire in Leeds, we know that some school-age young people both carry knives to school and will potentially use them.

Coupled with this is the growing problem of gang affiliation and the status of knife-crime and knife-assault in the community. The fear of many head-teachers and Senior Leadership Teams is that community ‘beefs’ can spill onto school or college corridors. Incidents in the community on monday night can precipitate non-student intrusions on to school grounds, bringing violence and chaos to the safe learning environment we are trying to create.

Client Satisfaction

We monitor thousands of learner surveys each year to help with our quality assurance processes through the ICM.  Here are some of the recent statistics about our courses.

Met or Exceeded Expectations

Course Quality

Trainer Good or Excellent

Trainer Quality

Relevant and Appropriate

Content of Course

Try our FREE sample of online learning

Secondary School feedback

Fulfilled Expectations...

“Flexible focus on what we required. Excellent Trainer. Fulfilled Expectations at about the right duration.”

assistant principal // Moat community college

really impressed with the style and techniques...

“Course was tailored to our school needs really well, Gerard had done his homework on our school and I was really impressed with the style and techniques that were shown. Good pace and Gerard is very good at keeping to task.”

head of year  //  The Centre School

a dynamic approach...

“It would benefit all student facing staff. Very helpful and useful information, and very dynamic approach.”

Head of Studies  //  Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth 1 College

Gerard O'Dea //  Director of Training

Welcome to our Positive Handling and Positive Behaviour training offering, which has since 2006 represented the cutting-edge of verbal and physical interventions training for thousands of schools across the country.

Our values include treating every person with dignity by showing them respect and making it safer for everyone, verbally wherever we can and physically only if we must.

I hope you will explore the different options we have created for you to access our cutting-edge courses, offering you the very best quality training and advice for your team who look after the most vulnerable children in our communities.

Gerard O'Dea

How is Dynamis Positive Handling training different?

As a pioneer in using online training for positive handling we understand how to get the best out of this format, for your busy school and your in-demand staff!

Uniquely flexible to your needs

With no less than 5 different formats for each course we deliver, we work hard to fit into your schedule, your budget and your work - your partner in behaviour management and positive handling.

 dedicated to authentic learning

Through our collaboration with Loughborough University faculty, we design and deliver training which has the highest degree of transfer to your working environment.

trauma-informed and responsive

Through our partnership with NATP we are committed to being trauma-aware as a team and our problem-solving approach recognises 'all behaviour has meaning'.


Your staff need skills and knowledge which will help you with YOUR specific children and behaviours, so our approach is focused on solving YOUR positive handling issues. See SCENA for more information.

Popular and Proven for Positive Handling

Our Positive Handling training reduces injury risk, improves inspection compliance and safeguards staff, children and your school’s reputation.

We are an Institute of Conflict Management (ICM) Quality Award Centre (#2201) for the delivery of conflict and interventions training.

We achieve this using a robust Positive Handling decision-making framework based on all the relevant legislation and National Guidance for Positive Handling, coupled with a modern, pragmatic approach to the holding and containment of children whose behaviour might harm themselves or others.

We deliver a relevant Positive Handling training course for your team at your school or service, on dates of your convenience.

Choose from a standard one-day course on an INSET day or a blended/twilight short course which leverages our online training system. We also offer training for Special Schools or those who look after children with SEND by blending communication and de-escalation tactics with the appropriate last-resort physical alternatives.

We also have courses which support your staff:

The two key elements of positive handling


KNOWLEDGE and THEORY elements.

Your staff are guided through 12 key decision-making factors which are fundamental to good practice in the area of Positive Handling. This Online Learning component may be particularly helpful for schools who have unnecessarily booked Whole-School training in the past.


Our trainer will then lead your staff through the verbal models for conflict communications and the physical Positive Handling tactics they may need at the higher levels of risk in practical sessions where repetition and embedding the skills is our aim.

The Learning Outcomes for our Positive Handling Courses

Your staff will explore and develop an understanding of:

✔ Health and Safety provisions for managing safety in the school workplace (Duty of Care).

✔ Department of Education Guidance on “The use of Reasonable Force with pupils” for Positive Handling

✔ Definitions of Powers from Education & Inspection Act Section 93 for the use of restraint and Positive Handling

✔ Communications De-Escalation Principles for Common Positive Handling Scenarios in Schools.

✔ Practical risk-reduction to protect and safeguard school staff and their pupils during Positive Handling

✔ Importance of Positive Behaviour Support plans and Positive Handling Plans for pupils

✔ The risks inherent in Restraint/Positive Handling interventions and how to reduce or avoid them.

✔ Positive Handling Control, Escort and Restraint Techniques for Non-Harmful Control of Children and Young People

World-class client feedback

Our client and learner satisfaction surveys have consistently been extrmely positive, even as we have grown to be an ever-more popular provider of Positive Handling and De-Escalation training.  Watch the video to learn about our most recent results!

Dynamis is a Quality Award Centre with the ICM, a recognised accrediting body in the U.K. for workplace training in the prevention and management of workplace violence, assuring you of our quality and commitment to standards.

Dynamis is the premier European Partner for Vistelar, a global consulting organisation covering training across the entire spectrum of human conflict. Vistelar's methodology stretches back over 25 years in successfully resolving conflict.

Dynamis employs SCENA - a cutting-edge approach to training design and delivery which is scenario-driven and task-focussed, making your scenarios into the curriculum, ensuring that your training meets the needs of your staff and the children you look after.