Now teachers told: You CAN use force on unruly pupils

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls

Unruly pupils who seriously disrupt lessons and school activities or refuse to leave class should be controlled by force, new government guidance for teachers suggests.

It says schools do not need parents’ consent to physically control and restrain youngsters who are seriously misbehaving. Guidance published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) sets out for teachers when they can reasonably physically intervene to stop bad behaviour.

It says teachers can act when pupils are fighting and could hurt each other, if a pupil attacks a teacher or another student, if a pupil deliberately damages property, continually refuses to follow instructions to leave a class or seriously disrupts a lesson or school activity – such as a sports day or a class trip.

It also says teachers can restrain youngsters who are hurting, or at risk of hurting, someone by accident, or if a pupil absconds from class, or detention – if that would put the pupil in danger or disrupt classes. Setting out dos and don’ts for teachers, it says ‘passive physical contact’, such as standing between pupils or blocking their path – is acceptable, as is ushering a pupil away by putting a hand on their back.

Teachers can also use restrictive ‘holds’ on pupils in ‘extreme’ circumstances, such as if students refuse to stop fighting.  But using moves like the ‘nose distraction technique’ – a sharp jab under the nose – are unacceptable, it says. While schools do not need parental consent to restrain pupils, the guidance does say that parents, pupils and others should be consulted about the school’s policy on the use of force.  Children’s Secretary Ed Balls was publishing the guide at the NASUWT’s annual conference in Birmingham.

Mr Balls said the idea that schools should have ‘no contact’ policies with pupils was simply a myth. He said: “What you can’t do is use force to punish children. “We don’t allow children to be hit, to hurt them for punishment, but if teachers need to use force to keep things safe and discipline in the classroom, then they can, they should, and, to be honest, they do every day.” He added: “We are issuing new guidance to make things really clear.”

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