Use of Reasonable Force and Physical Restraint Policy

All staff must read this policy and sign to say they have done so.

This policy applies to all staff, volunteers and pupils in the School, including in the EYFS

Status: 22/01/16 APPROVED

Policy written by / School reference: Mr S Thayer, (Safeguarding Lead)

Child Protection Coordinator: Mr S Thayer

Last Reviewed: January 2016

Next Review: Cycle Annual

The Legal Framework

Physical Restraint should be limited to emergency situations and used only in the last resort. The Education and Inspection Act 2006, Section 93 clarifies who and when physical restraint can and cannot be used. It enables teachers and other members of staff in the School, authorised by the Headteacher, to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances, to prevent a pupil from:

  • committing any offence,
  • causing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including the pupil himself), or
  • prejudicing the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school or among any pupils receiving education at the school, whether during a teaching session or otherwise.

(Examples of possible situations are given in section 6) This policy draws on ‘Use of reasonable force; Advice for Headteachers, staff and governing bodies’ published by the DfE in July 2013.

Policy Aims & Definition

  1. Definition of restraint at Crowstone Preparatory School
    • Physical restraint is the positive application of force with the intention of protecting the child from harming himself or others or seriously damaging property.
  2. General Policy Aims
    • Staff recognise that the use of reasonable force is only one of the last in a range of strategies available to secure pupil safety / well-being and also to maintain good order and discipline. Our policy on restraint should therefore be read in conjunction with our Behaviour/Discipline and Safeguarding policies.
  3. Specific aims of the Restraint Policy
    • To protect every person in the School community from harm
    • To protect all pupils against any form of physical intervention that is unnecessary, inappropriate or excessive or harmfulTo provide adequate information and appropriate training for staff as deemed necessary by the Headteacher, so that they are clear as to what constitutes appropriate behaviour and to deal effectively with violent or potentially violent situations

Why use restraint?

Physical restraint should avert danger by preventing or deflecting a child’s action or perhaps by removing a physical object, which could be used to harm him / herself or others. It is only likely to be needed if a child appears to be unable to exercise self-control of emotions and behaviour. It is not possible to define every circumstance in which physical restraint would be necessary or appropriate and staff will have to exercise their own judgement in situations which arise within the above categories. Staff should always act within the School’s policy on behaviour and discipline, particularly in dealing with disruptive behaviour.

Staff should be aware that when they are in charge of children during the School day, or during other supervised activities, they are acting in loco-parentis and should, therefore, take reasonable action to ensure pupils’ safety and well being. Failure to physically restrain a pupil who is subsequently injured or injures another, could, in certain circumstances, lead to an accusation of negligence. At the same time staff are not expected to place themselves in situations where they are likely to suffer injury as a result of their intervention.

  1. Alternative strategies

    • There are some situations in which the need for physical restraint is immediate and where there are no equally effective alternatives (eg is a pupil is about to run across a road). However, in many circumstances there are alternatives e.g. use of assertiveness skills such as: the broken record in which an instruction is repeated until the pupil complies use of a "distracter," such as a loud whistle, to interrupt the behaviour (such as a fight) long enough for other methods of verbal control to be effective
    • withdrawal of attention (audience) e.g. if an action such as damage to property is threatened
    • other techniques designed to defuse the situation, such as the avoidance of confrontation, or use of humour (in these cases the incident can be dealt with later when emotions are no longer running high)
    • the employment of other sanctions consistent with the School’s policy on behaviour.
  2. Use of Physical Restraint

    • Physical restraint should be applied as an act of care and control with the intention of re-establishing verbal control as soon as possible and, at the same time, allowing the pupil to regain self-control. It should never take a form which could be seen as a punishment.
    • Staff are only authorised to use reasonable force in applying physical restraint, although there is no absolute definition of this, as what constitutes reasonable force depends upon the particular situation and the pupil to whom it is being applied. However, as a general rule, only the force necessary to stop or prevent the behaviour should be used, in accordance with the guidelines below. There are some forms of physical intervention, which may involve minimal physical contact, such as blocking a pupil’s path or the staff member physically interposing him or herself between the pupil and another pupil or object. However, in some circumstances, direct physical contact may be necessary. In all circumstances other methods should be used if appropriate or effective physical restraint should be a last resort.
      1. When physical restraint becomes necessary:
        • Do:

          • Tell the pupil what you are doing and why

          • Use the minimum force necessary

          • Involve another member of staff if possible

          • Tell the pupil what s/he must do for you to remove the restraint (this may need frequent repetition)

          • Use simple and clear language

          • Hold limbs above a major joint if possible e.g. above the elbow

          • Relax your restraint in response to the pupil’s compliance

        • Don’t:

          • Act in temper (involve another staff member if you fear loss of control)

          • Involve yourself in a prolonged verbal exchange with the pupil

          • Attempt to reason with the pupil

          • Involve other pupils in the restraint

          • Touch or hold the pupil in sexual areas

          • Twist or force limbs back against a joint Bend fingers or pull hair

          • Hold the pupil in a way which will restrict blood flow or breathing eg around the neck

          • Slap, punch, kick or trip up the pupil

Actions after an incident

Physical restraint often occurs in response to highly charged emotional situations and there is a clear need for debriefing after the incident, both for the staff involved and the pupil. A member of the leadership team should be informed of any incident as soon as possible and will take responsibility for making arrangements for debriefing once the situation has stabilised. An appropriate member of the teaching staff should always be involved in debriefing the pupil involved and any victims of the incident should be offered support, and their parents informed on the same day. A copy of the Restraint form must be completed by the member of staff involved and any adult witnesses on the same day as the incident and passed to the person reviewing the incident. In incidents where the Headteacher is involved the Safeguarding Lead must be informed.

If the behaviour is part of an ongoing pattern it may be necessary to address the situation through the development of a behavioural ISP, which may include an anger management programme, or other strategies agreed by the SENDCO. It is also helpful to consider the circumstances precipitating the incident to explore ways in which future incidents can be avoided.

All incidents should be recorded immediately. All sections of the report should be completed so that in the event of any future complaint a full record is available. A member of the leadership team will contact parents as soon as possible after an incident, normally on the same day, to inform them of the actions that were taken and why, and to provide them with an opportunity to discuss it.

Risk Assessments

If the School becomes aware that a pupil is likely to behave in a disruptive way that may require the use of reasonable force, we will plan how to respond if the situation arises. Such planning will address:

  • Management of the pupil (eg reactive strategies to de-escalate a conflict, holds to be used if necessary)
  • Involvement of parents to ensure that they are clear about the specific action the School might need to take
  • Briefing of staff to ensure they know exactly what action they should be taking (this may identify a need for training or guidance)
  • Identification of additional support that can be summoned if appropriate


A clear restraint policy, adhered to by all staff and shared with parents, should help to avoid complaints from parents. It is unlikely to prevent all complaints, however, and a dispute about the use of force by a member of staff might lead to an investigation, either under disciplinary procedures or by the Police and social services department under child protection procedures.

It is our intention to inform all staff, pupils and parents about these procedures and the context in which they apply.

When might it be appropriate to use reasonable force?

Examples of situations that may require restraint are when:

  • a pupil attacks a member of staff, or another pupil
  • pupils fighting
  • a pupil is causing, or at risk of causing, injury or damage by accident, by rough play, or by misuse of dangerous materials, substances or objects
  • a pupil is running in a corridor or on a stairway in a way in which he/she might have or cause an accident likely to injure her/himself or others
  • a pupil absconding from a class or trying to leave School (NB this will only apply if a pupil could be at risk if not kept in the classroom or at School)
  • a pupil persistently refuses to obey an order to leave an area
  • a pupil behaves in such a way that seriously disrupts a lesson