Positive Handling

Reviewed January 2019

Policy: Positive Handling

The Law

This policy is written in conjunction with the recommendations of the DfE circular ‘Listening to and involving children and young people’ 01/2014 and Oxfordshire’s guidance on ‘Use of reasonable Force.’ 2013. As well as the 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’ 2003

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 the ratio of staff to pupils is sufficient
  • staff being aware of triggers
  • listening to the child
  • Using de-escalation techniques
  • writing positive handling plans
  • completing risk assessments which are kept up to date
  • appropriateness of the curriculum to meet the needs of all children which include opportunities for choice and a sense of achievement
  • using a wide range of teaching approaches and strategies
  • developing staff expertise and competencies via in-service training
  • creating a safe and secure environment e.g. gates, keypads to doors etc

Positive handling is only used as a last resort.

General guidelines

There are different forms of positive handling: 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 positive handling 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 reasonable and proportionate to both the behaviour of the individual to be controlled and the nature of the harm they might cause.

After any period of positive handling, 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

Positive handling can only be used with a pupil if:

  • he or she has a positive handling plan written by the teacher outlining the possible reasons.
  • the behaviour programme is monitored and evaluated regularly
  • all positive handling is recorded and parents and carers are informed


Any form of positive handling must be recorded in the bound and numbered book and shared with parents and carers.

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

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