- To provide a workable framework for healthy and constructive staff-pupil relations
- To protect pupils from awkward and dangerous situations and from genuine exploitation
- To shield members of staff from misunderstandings of their intentions and from allegations
- To help define parameters of acceptability in staff-pupil interactions as a reference point in dealing with any complaints
- There should be no physical contact between a member of staff and a pupil unless such contact is necessary for the proper professional discharge of that member of staff’s specific responsibilities and/or general duty of care.
- If a member of staff has to use physical force with a pupil, the details of the circumstances should be brought to the immediate attention of the Director of Administration, Deputy Headmaster or Headmaster
Definitions, circumstances, guidelines
Out of context it is impossible either to provide water-tight definitions of the key terms in the Policy or to catalogue all possible circumstances and responses (acceptable and unacceptable) to such circumstances. The sheets held in school, which are duplicated with permission from the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education Document Summary Service, provide guidance on these matters, as does the DfE advisory document ‘Use of Reasonable Force’ (2011). It is the responsibility of every member of staff to have read, and to act in accordance with, this policy and to consult these guidelines as necessary.
The two important points are:
- Every member of staff should be aware of the potential difficulties of any physical contact with pupils and should avoid such contact whenever possible; equally, members of staff should be aware that there do arise from time to time situations in which it would be improper or neglectful not to have appropriate physical contact with a pupil or pupils.
- If a certain kind of physical contact between a member of staff and a pupil in a given situation seems right, is there any other way (or other type of contact) which that member of staff could use to deal properly with the situation? If there is, no physical contact should be made.
Every member of staff should be conscious of the risks of, and should try to avoid or risk-manage, situations which could be awkward or compromising for either the member of staff or pupil(s) concerned.
- A member of staff of one sex, alone in a small room with a pupil of the other, behind closed doors, is an example of a situation to be avoided if possible. (Sometimes this may not be possible: it is, for example, often practical for oral examinations to be conducted, or appropriate for a medical matter to be dealt with, in such circumstances).
- Comforting (especially young) pupils when they are injured or distressed may well form part of a member of staff’s proper duty of care in certain circumstances. However, the risks of the teacher’s ‘comforting arm’ being unwelcome – or misconstrued - tend to grow in proportion with the age of the pupil and the privacy of the circumstances. Male members of staff should be aware of the implications of a perceived gender imbalance here: there seem to be more potential problems with a male member of staff putting a ‘comforting arm’ around a girl’s shoulder than when the gender-roles are reversed.
Reviewed: Mich 2011
Next Review: Mich 2013