Teachers issued with restraint guidance

Lauren Higgs
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Teachers have been issued with guidance on the use of restraint in schools as part of government plans to give staff more power to discipline pupils.

The guidance, which is part of the new teachers' guarantee, clarifies how school staff can defend themselves against aggressive, disruptive or dangerous behaviour.

It says that teachers can use physical force to restrain pupils whose behaviour poses a threat to themselves, the teacher or other pupils, as long as the use of force is a protective measure and not a disciplinary penalty.

The guidance also deems restraint reasonable if a pupil is fighting, causing risk of injury to themselves or others, if a pupil is committing, or on the verge of committing, deliberate damage to property and if a pupil persistently refuses to follow an instruction to leave a classroom.

Speaking at the annual conference of the teaching union NASUWT, Children's Secretary Ed Balls said behaviour is good in most schools. But he warned that a persistent minority of pupils do behave badly.

"Teachers have the powers they need to manage bad behaviour but I am aware that some teachers are worried about using these powers. This guidance aims to stop teachers being afraid of using the powers they have when necessary," he explained.

"Myths that schools should have ‘no contact policies', that teachers shouldn't be able to use force to break up fights or remove pupils from classes when they are disrupting the lesson, will be dispelled by this new guidance which makes clear that in some situations, teachers have the powers and protection to use force."

The teachers' guarantee sets out several measures to support school staff. It sits alongside similar pledges for parents and pupils.

Under the teachers' guarantee, the government promises to:

  • Support teachers to provide excellent teaching and learning
  • Invest in continuing professional development
  • Give schools the power to enforce discipline and encourage good behaviour
  • Provide every school with strong, effective leadership
  • Support the schools' workforce to maintain the highest professional standards
  • Maintain investment in schools, Sure Start children's centres and 16 to 19 learning

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