Dormers Wells Infant School

Dormers Wells Infant School

The Use of Reasonable Force

Dormers Wells Infant School

Policy on the Use of Reasonable Force

The Legal Framework

Dormers Wells Infant School is committed promoting the welfare and well-being of all children. The school recognises that there will be occasions when it will be necessary to use reasonable force to control or restrain pupils. However, Reasonable Force must only be used as a last resort and procedures are in place to maintain a calm, orderly and supportive environment to minimise the risk of incidents that might lead to the need to use reasonable force.

Definitions of Reasonable Force

The DofE (Non-statutory advice, 02/03/12) recognises that:

The term ‘reasonable force’ covers the broad range of actions used by most teachers at some point in their career that involve a degree of physical contact with pupils.

Reasonable ~ means using no more force than is absolutely necessary

Control ~ means either passive physical contact, such as standing between pupils or blocking a pupil’s path, or active physical contact, such as leading a pupil by the arm [sic] out of a classroom

Restraint ~ means to hold back physically or to bring a pupil under control. It is typically used in more extreme circumstances, for example when two pupils are fighting and refuse to separate without physical intervention.

Staff Authorised to use Reasonable Force

All members of school staff have a legal power to use reasonable force. Only staff specifically trained must use restraint techniques.

Volunteers, students and other visitors must not use reasonable force, in any circumstance, and must not be placed in a position that might compromise the enforcement of this directive.

Using Alternative Strategies

All staff must work to minimise the need to use reasonable force by:

  • Maintaining a calm environment that minimises the risk of incidents arising
  • Maintaining good discipline at all times and in all parts of the school premises
  • Teaching a timetabled PSHE / PSED session each week, supplemented by shorter sessions throughout the week, as necessary to address pupil concerns before they escalate
  • Using Social & Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) materials
  • De-escalating incidents as soon as they arise or threaten to erupt
  • Observing triggers for extreme behaviour and ensuring that a Behaviour Support Plan and Pupil Risk Assessment are in place for pupils with extremely challenging behaviour and that the strategies set out therein are consistently applied
  • Ensuring that vulnerable pupils are adequately supported 

Objectives of Using Reasonable Force

  • To maintain the safety of pupils and staff
  • To prevent serious breaches of school discipline
  • To prevent serious damage to property

Some examples of when reasonable force might be used are:

  • The removal of extremely disruptive pupils from the classroom, when they refuse to leave
  • To restrain a pupil at risk of self-harm through her / his actions
  • To prevent a pupil from attacking another pupil or a member of staff / visitor to the school
  • To prevent a pupil from leaving a classroom when allowing her / him to do so would compromise her / his safety or lead to behaviour that disrupts other pupils
  • To prevent a pupil disrupting a school event / visit by her / his behaviour

Some examples of reasonable force are:

  • Physically intervening between pupils
  • Blocking a pupil’s path
  • Leading a pupil by the hand (never the wrist)
  • Ushering a pupil away from a difficult situation by placing an arm around the shoulders
  • In extreme circumstances, using restrictive techniques (i.e. positive handling).

 Deciding when to use Reasonable Force

  • Before intervening a staff member will tell the child to stop his / her disruptive / dangerous action in clear and simple language.
  • The staff member should attempt to calm the pupil through talk and, if necessary, diversionary tactics to divert his / her attention away from the undesirable behaviour.
  • The staff member must remain calm at all times.
  • Force must only be used when the risks involved in doing so outweigh the risks involved in not doing so.
  • Another staff member must always be present in situations that may lead to the use of reasonable force.
  • Staff members must not place themselves at risk of physical injury.
  • Staff must always consider the age of the pupil and her / his level of understanding and respond appropriately.

 Pupils with SEN / Disabilities

Staff have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils and those with SEN, whether or not parental permission for SEN registration has been given. Where reasonable force has been used, the broader context relating to the specific pupil must be considered, when judging response and support after the incident has been de-fused. 

The SENCO must:

  • Review the support programmes for pupils with SEN and ensure that they are implemented
  • Draw up a Behaviour Support Plan and Pupil Risk Assessment immediately for any pupil whose behaviour may warrant the use of reasonable force, whether or not that child is on the SEN register
  • Ensure that staff working with a pupil with BSED are aware of situations that may provoke extreme behaviour and of the de-escalation strategies being used with that pupil
  • Inform parents / carers, in writing (and by telephone, where possible) that a Risk Assessment and Behaviour Support Plan has been put into place for their child, informing them also that the use of reasonable force may be necessary and seeking parental consent for SEN registration if this is not already in place
  • Ensure that guidance / strategies are given to pupils to help them cope in periods of crisis / distress

Recording & Reporting Procedures

  • When physical restraint has been used, a record of restraint must be completed immediately and passed to the headteacher (or deputy headteacher, in the head’s absence).
  • The parent / carer of a child who has been physically restrained must be informed immediately, by telephone, if possible but always in writing on the day on which restraint took place.
  • Where appropriate, external agencies will be informed e.g. LA Safeguarding, HSE. If a child is in the Care of the Local Authority or is subject to a CP or CIN Plan, then the social worker will also be informed, in writing.
  • A record of assaults on staff is maintained.
  • In some instances, pupil exclusion will be the outcome: the headteacher must inform the parents and the LA of this in writing. 

Post-Incident Support

Incidents that require the use of reasonable force can be upsetting for all involved and may result in injury to the pupil or staff involved.

Care is taken after an incident to ensure that both pupils and adults involved are supported and that immediate needs, such as First Aid, withdrawal to a safe or quiet place, are met.

Witness statements will be taken and the incident will be investigated. A member of SLT must be informed of the incident immediately.

Support for the pupil must be reviewed by the SENCO without delay.

The pupil will be supported to understand the impact and consequences of his / her actions.

Class teachers will use their professional judgment in determining how to respond to an incident but it is expected that issues arising will be dealt with, either individually or with the whole class, through a PSHE approach.

Parents / carers must be involved in any discussion about provision for their children. The SENCO will arrange for referral to external agencies and a DCPO will make any necessary referral to Social Care.

The outcome of the investigation will determine further actions to be taken, both to protect staff and to reduce the risk of further such incidents.

Complaints and Allegations

Complaints will be dealt with in line with the school’s Complaints Procedure.

Allegations against staff will be investigated by the headteacher and will be referred to the LA’S Safeguarding Team.

Training for Staff

Only staff who have had training in the use of reasonable force can use restraint. Training will be provided at regular intervals, in line with LA recognised techniques and using, as far as is possible, LA approved trainers.

The quality of training will be monitored and concerns passed to the LA’s Safeguarding Officer. 

Monitoring, Evaluation & Review 

The headteacher will report the number of incidents requiring the use of reasonable force to the governing body. Both the headteacher and the governing body monitor the use of reasonable force.

The effectiveness of this policy will be reviewed by governors with responsibility for safeguarding, in liaison with the headteacher.

An early review may be called, if an incident is sufficiently serious to warrant it.

 Policy reviewed: 02/14

Next review: 02/16

Ratified by governors: 26/02/14