This is very much a ‘just-in-case’ policy appendix and one which covers an area which, if ever to be of relevance at all, is likely to be so in any of the following:
- As a very small part of an overall behaviour management programme, which itself appears to operate effectively by means that do not involve physical restraint, and which is sustained by a prevailing ethos, by staff-pupil relationships, by staff-pupil ratios and by expectations and standards of conduct that make it hard to imagine circumstances in which physical restraint would be an appropriate option
- As a last resort in a necessary, immediate response in an emergency, or when all other avoidance and de-escalation strategies will have been tried
- As one point in a sequence, preceded if at all possible by a warning of the potential use of force (with the reasons for its possible use – e.g. for the pupil’s own or for others’ safety), and by an opportunity to withdraw.
This guidance covers:
- any physical restraint exercised by a member of staff or person authorised by the Headmaster to be lawfully responsible for pupils at the time, whether on site or not, whether during day-school hours or not, whether the pupil is a Rishworth pupil or is from another school
- the use of reasonable force, which should be understood to be force which is proportionate to the consequences it is intended to prevent and is the minimum degree of force needed to achieve the desired result.
In this context, the purpose of restraining a pupil would include any or all of the following and may or may not involve trying to calm the pupil or restore self-control to the pupil in a dignified way:
- Preserving personal safety
- Preventing damage to property
- Stopping a crime (or, if the pupil is under the age of criminal responsibility, what would be a crime for an older pupil)
- Maintaining good order and discipline (whether during a teaching session or otherwise)
Any physical restraint exercised should
- be reported by the member of staff concerned to the Deputy Headmaster or Headmaster soon as possible after the incident has occurred and before parents or guardians are informed
- be documented in line with the School’s incident-reporting procedures
- be followed in particular by a prompt record of the circumstances and justification for the use of the restraint
- be reported to the affected pupil’s parents or guardians as soon as possible, unless there is are reasonable grounds for believing that to do so might subject that pupil (or any other(s)) to risk of harm, in which case the Child Protection Policy and accompanying documentation should be referred to)
- further followed up as necessary by guidance/advice/counselling for the pupil and/or staff involved.
Principles Governing Physical Interventions to Maintain Control
- The method of intervention must be in keeping with the incident that gave rise to it
- The degree and duration of any force applied must be proportionate* to the circumstances
- The potential for damage to persons and property in applying (and in not applying) any form of restraint must always be kept in mind
- The failure of a particular intervention to secure a child’s compliance should not automatically signal the immediate use of another more forceful form of intervention. Escalation should be avoided if possible, especially if it would make the overall situation more destructive and/or unmanageable
- In some circumstances (e.g. where it is clear that feasible physical intervention would be likely to avoid serious personal injury) it could be construed as a failure in the duty of care on the part of the teacher (or other responsible adult) not to restrain physically, or to persist in attempting further feasible restraint where one method has been unsuccessful .
- The age, competence and particular needs of the child should be taken into account in deciding what degree/type of intervention is necessary.
* “Holding” may be distinguished from “physical restraint” by the manner of intervention and degree of force applied. Physical restraint uses the degree of force necessary to prevent a child from harming him/herself or others or property; holding would discourage but in itself not prevent such action. As both involve physical contact, both should be understood in the context of the School’s Policy on Physical Contact.
- Evaluation of Circular 10/98 on the use of force to control or restrain pupils (Brief No. 451, July 2003 ISBN 84478 041 4;
- Guidance on Permissible Forms of Control in Children’s Residential Care, 1993 LAC(93)13;
- Children Act 1989 (re the legal constraints on physical intervention to restrain in the child care field);
- Bristol University Document Summary Service ‘Use of Force to Control of Restrain Pupils’, A Summary of the New DCSF guidance – Ref No. DCSF-00368-2010, April 2010.
- Relevant also: The criminal law relating to assault
Reviewed: Mich 2011
Next Review by: Mich 2013