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The Trinity Handbook

Restraint Policy

Introduction

This policy document outlines the key principles and vision in terms of behaviour in school. This policy is written with reference to the Trinity Catholic School Mission Statement:

"This Catholic School will seek to educate the whole person, academically, morally, socially and spiritually through the example of Jesus Christ and the witness of committed capable teachers".(Mission Statement)

All staff will adhere to the guidance within this DfE circular.

Section 550A

The section allows teachers, and other persons who are authorised by the Headteacher to have control or charge of pupils (see below), to use such force as is reasonable in all the circumstances to prevent a pupil from doing, or continuing to do, any of the following:

  • Committing a criminal offence (including behaving in a way that would be an offence if the pupil were not under the age of criminal responsibility);
  • Injuring themselves or others;
  • Causing damage to property (including the pupil's own property);
  • Engaging in any behaviour prejudicial to maintaining good order and discipline at the school or among any of its pupils, whether that behaviour occurs in a classroom during a teaching session or elsewhere.

The provision applies when a teacher, or other authorised person, is on the school premises, and when he or she has lawful control or charge of the pupil concerned elsewhere eg. on a field trip or other authorised out of school activity.

Authorised Staff

All Trinity staff with control over pupils (Dinner staff, Caretakers, Invigilators etc.)

The Act allows all teachers at a school to use reasonable force to control or restrain pupils.  It also allows other people to do so, in the same way as teachers, provided they have been authorised by the Headteacher to have control or charge of pupils.  Those might include classroom assistants, care workers, midday supervisors, specialist support assistants, education welfare officers, escorts, caretakers, or voluntary helpers including people accompanying pupils on visits, exchanges or holidays organised by the school.

The Headteacher has identified the above, other than teachers, whom they wish to authorise to have control or charge of pupils and therefore be able to use force if necessary.  Authorisation may be on a permanent or long term basis because of the nature of the person's job, or short term for a specific event such as a school trip.

Action in self-defence or in an emergency

Section 550A does not cover all the situations in which it might be reasonable for someone to use a degree of force.  For example, everyone has the right to defend themselves against an attack provided they do not use a disproportionate degree of force to do so.  Similarly, in an emergency, for example if a pupil was at immediate risk of injury or on the point of inflicting injury on someone else, any member of staff would be entitled to intervene.  The purpose of Section 550A is to make it clear that teachers, and other authorised staff, are also entitled to intervene in other, less extreme, situations.

Types of Incidents

There are a wide variety of situations in which reasonable force might be appropriate, or necessary, to control or restrain a pupil.  They will fall into three broad categories:

  1. where action is necessary in self-defence or because there is an imminent risk of injury;
  2. where there is a developing risk of injury, or significant damage to property;
  3. where a pupil is behaving in a way that is compromising good order and discipline.

Examples of situations that fall within one of the first two categories are:

  • a pupil attacks a member of staff, or another pupil;
  • pupils are fighting;
  • a pupil is engaged in, or is on the verge of committing, deliberate damage or vandalism to property;
  • a pupil is causing, or at risk of causing, injury or damage by accident, by rough play, or by misuse of dangerous materials or objects;
  • a pupil is running in a corridor or on a stairway in a way in which he or she might have or cause an accident likely to injure him or herself or others;
  • a pupil absconds from a class or tries to leave school (NB. This will only apply if a pupil could be at risk if not kept in the classroom or at school).

Examples of situations that fall into the third category are:

  • a pupil persistently refuses to obey an order to leave a classroom;
  • a pupil is behaving in a way that is seriously disrupting a lesson.

Reasonable Force

There is no legal definition of 'reasonable force'.  So it is not possible to set out comprehensively when it is reasonable to use force, or the degree of force that may reasonably be used.  It will always depend on all the circumstances of the case.

There are two relevant considerations:

  • the use of force can be regarded as reasonable only if the circumstances of the particular incident warrant it.  The use of any degree of force is unlawful if the particular circumstances do not warrant the use of physical force.  Therefore physical force could not be justified to prevent a pupil from committing a trivial misdemeanour, or in a situation that clearly could be resolved without force.
  • the degree of force employed must be in proportion to the circumstances of the incident and the seriousness of the behaviour or the consequences it is intended to prevent.  Any force used should always be the minimum needed to achieve the desired result.

Whether it is reasonable to use force, and the degree of force that could reasonably be employed, might also depend on the age, understanding, and sex of the pupil.

Details of any incident where physical restraint was used should be 'logged' with the Headteacher.

Review

This policy will be reviewed as and when new guidance is made available by the DfE.