Positive Handling

Amended November 2017

The Law

This policy is written in conjunction with the recommendations of the DfEE Circular 10/98 “Section 550A of the Education Act 1996: The Use of Force to Control or Restrain Pupils” and “LEA/0242/2003 – guidance on the use of restrictive physical interventions for staff working with children and adults who display extreme behaviour in association with learning disability and / or autistic spectrum disorders”

The above Act sets out circumstances in which reasonable force may be used by a member of staff in school for the purpose of preventing a child from:

  • Committing an offence
  • causing personal injury to self or others
  • causing damage to property
  • engage in any behaviour prejudicial to the maintenance of good order and discipline in a school or among any of its pupils


Prevention is achieved by-

  • ensuring ratio of staff to pupils is sufficient
  • staff being aware of triggers
  • writing positive handling technique plans
  • completing risk assessments which are kept up to date
  • appropriateness of curriculum to meet the needs of all children which include opportunities for choice and sense of achievement
  • using a wide range of teaching styles and strategies
  • developing staff expertise and competencies via in-service training
  • providing secure seating e.g. seat belts, adapted chairs
  • creating a safe and secure environment e.g. double handled doors, keypads to external doors
  • providing safe and secure rooms for “times of distress” as part of child’s behaviour programme e.g. sensory and soft play rooms
  • listening to the child

Physical intervention is only used when all other strategies have failed.

General guidelines

There are different forms of physical intervention: non-restrictive and restrictive

Bodily contact


Environmental change

Non restrictive

Manual guidance to assist a person walking

Use of protective helmet to prevent self injury

Removal of the cause of distress e.g. adjusting temperature, light or background noise


Holding a person’s hand to prevent them hitting someone

Use of arm cuffs, AFO’s or splints to prevent self injury

Using a wrist strap when off site

Removed to an alternative room accompanied by an adult

* Restrictive physical interventions can be employed to achieve a number of different outcomes:

  • to break away or disengage from dangerous or harmful physical contact initiated by a child
  • to separate the child from a “trigger” e.g. removing one pupil who responds to another with physical aggression
  • to protect a child from a dangerous situation e.g. the hazards of a busy road

Restrictive intervention may be “planned” as part of a behaviour programme / risk assessment or “unplanned” when used in an emergency.

The scale and nature of any physical intervention must be proportionate to both the behaviour of the individual to be controlled and the nature of the harm they might cause.      

After any period of physical intervention staff must be given “time out” to calm themselves and record the incident. Similarly pupils must be given time to reflect on their actions and re-enter the learning environment free from prejudice.

Specific guidance for school use

Physical Intervention (PI) can only be used with a pupil if:

  • he or she has a behaviour programme written by the teacher outlining the possible reasons for PI
  • the behaviour programme is monitored and evaluated regularly
  • all PI is recorded and parents / carers are informed


Any form of physical intervention must be recorded and shared with parents / carers using the bound and numbered book kept locked in the Headteacher’s Office on the primary site and locked in the Assistant Headteacher’s Office on the secondary site.

Staff must complete the Health and Safety “Physical and Verbal Abuse of Staff Incident Report” if they are hurt during a physical restraint.

Please read in conjunction with school’s Discipline and Behaviour Policy and Health and Safety Policy.