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Behaviour Scenarios

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  1. Behaviour Scenarios A specially commissioned set of resources for tutors, school mentors and trainee teachers Scenario 17: Physical Intervention

  2. Scenario 17: Physical Intervention A pupil repeatedly refuses to do what you ask, swears at you and flies into a rage. The pupil stands up and prepares to storm out of the class. Is this a situation where you are entitled to physically intervene? What should you take into account before deciding what to do? www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk2

  3. Key Learning Outcomes • Learning about the legal rights and responsibilities of teachers in relation to the use of force to control or restrain pupils. • Understanding about the advantages and disadvantages of the use of physical intervention and developing an individual action plan for how to deal with this situation, should it arise. www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk3

  4. What the law says Section 93 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 enables school staff to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to prevent a pupil from doing, or continuing to do, any of the following: • Committing any offence (or, for a pupil under the age of criminal responsibility, what would be an offence for an older pupil) injuring themselves or others • Causing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including the pupil himself); or • Prejudicing the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school or among any pupils receiving education at the school, whether during a teaching session or otherwise (DCSF 2007: 3)

  5. What do we mean by physically intervening? DCSF(2007) guidance suggests the types of force used could include: • Passive physical contact resulting from standing between pupils or blocking a pupil’s path interposing between pupils • Active physical contact such as: • Leading a pupil by the hand or arm • Ushering a pupil away by placing a hand in the centre of the back • In more extreme circumstance, using appropriate restrictive holds, which may require specific expertise or training NB Some of these suggestions carry inherent risks to both the child and adult and do not represent a substitute for training in relation to physical intervention from a recognised provider.

  6. What do you take into account? • The seriousness of the incident, assessed by the effect of the injury, damage or disorder which is likely to result if force is not used. The greater the potential for injury, damage or serious disorder, the more likely it is that using force may be justified: • the chances of achieving a result by other means. The lower the probability of achieving he desired result by other means, the more likely it is that force may be justified: • The relative risks associated with physical intervention compared with using other strategies. The smaller the risks associated with physical intervention compared with other strategies, the more likely it is that using force may be justified. (DCSF 2007) www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk6

  7. What else should you take into account? • Does the pupil have special educational needs or a disability? Guidance states “Those exercising power to use force must also take proper account of any particular special educational need and/or disability that the pupil might have” (DCSF 2007: 4) • What does the school and local authority policy say in relation to physical intervention? • What guidance is offered by any teaching union to which you belong regarding participation in physical intervention? • Any training you have received in relation to physical intervention in this situation – or www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk7

  8. Activity: The decision to physically intervene (1) For this specific scenario which (if any) of these categories from the government guidance would you use to justify a physical intervention: • Committing any offence (or, for a pupil under the age of criminal responsibility, what would be an offence for an older pupil) injuring themselves or others • Causing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including the pupil himself); or • Prejudicing the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school or among any pupils receiving education at the school, whether during a teaching session or otherwise Continued.... www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk

  9. Activity: The decision to physically intervene(2) • What factors in the scenario influenced your decision? Was there other information that you did not have (eg age of pupil) that might have influenced your decision? • What particular problems exist for teachers in making a judgement to physically intervene based on whether the behaviour is prejudicial to ‘the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school or among any pupils receiving education at the school’? Remember:just because you may be able to justify a physical intervention based on the government guidance does not mean using it is the right decision

  10. Activity: What are the alternatives? For this specific scenario list any alternatives are there to physically intervening? • Eg: • Use ‘red card’ system or similar to summon assistance • Do not attempt to block pupil’s exit from classroom, but alert school office that pupil has left room • Others? WWW.BEHAVIOUR4LEARNING.AC.UK

  11. How might you prevent a recurrence? • This sort of situation is usually preceded by a build-up of tension. Spotting the early signs and intervening to prevent escalation will have the greatest effect. • Creating a calm, orderly supportive school and classroom climate has a big impact on reducing the need for restraint. • Stay calm and use non-threatening verbal and body language, giving the pupil a way out of the situation. • Building long term positive relationships with pupils makes early intervention to prevent outbursts easier. • Schools which use a whole school approach, such as the SEAL programme are likely to have developed strategies to help staff and pupils with anger management etc. • Follow-up with the pupil, using a restorative approach, is essential to reduce the risk of a recurrence. www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk11

  12. Underlying principles • Though it is an option available to school staff in extreme situations the decision to physically intervene should not be taken lightly • If needed, physical intervention should be used only to prevent harm and should be followed by action to address the causes of the behaviour. • You will also need to deal with the rest of the class, telling them that you are sorry that their learning had been interrupted, that you will deal with it, but that you now need them to get on with their learning. • The effects on you and the class can be long-term. This issue needs to be considered and addressed. www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk12

  13. Rights and Responsibilities • You do have the right to physically intervene in a range of situations described in government guidance (DCSF 2007) • The level of physical intervention should be the minimum needed. • Physical punishment of pupils is unlawful. • Use of force is only reasonable (and therefore lawful) if it is clear that the behaviour is sufficiently dangerous or disruptive to warrant physical intervention of the degree applied or could not have reasonably been dealt with by any other means. • You need to be sure that that you are not discriminating against a pupil with a disability or putting a pupil with particular needs (e.g. haemophilia, brittle bone disorder, epilepsy etc) at risk. www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk13

  14. Activities to try • Working with another trainee, devise a script to use for defusing this situation. Use some of the techniques already discussed, such as: using empathy; saying “I need you to..”; offering a choice; allowing take-up time; separating the inappropriate behaviour from the pupil; rule reminders etc. • You might wish to act out the situation! • Discuss the effects of different approaches www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk14

  15. Key Documents • The Use of Force to Control or Restrain Pupils (DCSF 2007). This supersedes Circular 10/98: The Use of Force to Control or Restrain Pupils (July 1998) • Guidance on the Use of Restrictive Physical Interventions for Pupils with Severe Behavioural Difficulties (LEA/0264/2003) • 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 (LEA/0242/2002)

  16. Want to find out more?References on the B4L site • Teachers TV - School Matters – Train to restrain • Teachers TV - Need to know – New Restraint Powers • DCSF guidance - Use of Force Guidance (Mainstream schools) 16

  17. Conclusions What is the key message have you gained from this scenario material? How might you apply this approach in your own practice in school. Further insights and notes for tutors and mentors are available on the website Updated August 2009