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The Use of Reasonable Force

The term ‘reasonable force’ covers the broad range of actions used by most teachers at some point in their career that involve a degree of physical contact with pupils.  Force is usually used either to control or restrain. This can range from guiding a pupil to safety by the arm through to more extreme circumstances such as breaking up a fight or where a student needs to be restrained to prevent violence or injury to themselves or others.  ‘Reasonable in the circumstances’ means using no more force than is needed.


Staff at school may need to use force to control pupils and to restrain them. School staff will always try to avoid acting in a way that might cause injury, but in extreme cases it may not always be possible to avoid injuring the pupil.


Control means either passive physical contact, such as standing between pupils or blocking a pupil's path, or active physical contact such as leading a pupil by the arm out of a classroom.


Restraint means to hold back physically or to bring a pupil under control. It is typically used in more extreme circumstances, for example when two pupils are fighting and refuse to separate without physical intervention or when a child is self-harming.


Reasonable force can be used to prevent pupils from:


·       Hurting themselves or others

·       Damaging property

·       Causing disorder

·       Behaving in a way that seriously disrupts a school event e.g. a school trip or visit

·       Leaving the classroom where allowing the pupil to leave would risk their safety or disrupt the learning of others

·       Attacking a member of staff or another pupil

·       Fighting


Reasonable force may also include removing disruptive pupils from the classroom where they have refused to follow an instruction to do so or to restrain a pupil at risk of harming themselves through their physical outbursts.  School will not use force as a punishment.