Use of Force in Schools – what you can do to ensure your staff and students are fully protected in accordance with DfE Guidance…
Conflict and challenging behaviour in schools is an unfortunate reality, and if you are involved in the running of a school, whether in the capacity of a head teacher, deputy head or other member of the senior management team – or even in the role of a school governor – then you, your staff and pupils or students are more than likely to be subjected to, (or dealing with the consequences of) some form of challenging behaviour or disorder at some point, whether this be from pupils, students or even parents and other members of the public. Now this can certainly make your job, and that of your staff, even more difficult than it already is!
Consider the statistics from recent years: in 2012 to 2013, assaults on school staff in the UK averaged 93 a day (this was from a total of 17,680 reported assaults.) It was also reported in 2013 that 40 teachers were being attacked every day in Primary Schools. Then, of course, there was the very tragic case of Ann Maguire which occured in June 2014. Although this was an extreme case – the likes of which happens very rarely – the possibility of such high risk situations occurring still remains. (Take, for instance, the subsequent case of supply teacher Vincent Uzoma who was injured in class in a school in Bradford, July 2015.)
So how does this affect you and your school?
As a head teacher or educational senior manager, you have a legal responsibility to your staff as well as your pupils/students to provide a safe working environment. Effectively, that responsibility lies with you as an employer, alongside your other obligations as an educational provider where you have a ‘duty of care’. So, in effect, this comes from health & safety legislation and – especially if you are provider of state education – the Human Rights Act.
So what can you do?
This is where the Department of Education guidance on the use of reasonable force in schools comes in. Entitled ‘Use of Reasonable Force’, the document provides advice on the use of force in schools, the powers available to staff in accordance with the law and the responsibilities of headteachers and governing bodies. It also includes some guidance on staff training and positive behaviour policies in relation to the use of force.
N Davies Training works extensively with Intelligensa, who specialise in the field of Positive Handling and whose courses include instruction on relevant legislation and health and safety, as well as the DfE guidance mentioned above. The courses also include training in safe positive handling skills relevant to the educational sector. (Intelligensa are also licensed by NFPS Ltd to deliver a number of Awarding Body qualifications in this sector.)
(For more information about our positive intervention, physical intervention and restraint training and how to contact us, click here.)
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