Use of Reasonable Force at Highfields College

At Highfields College, we extensively plan positive and proactive behaviour support, for instance through drawing up Positive Handling Plans for more vulnerable children, and agreeing them with the student, we aim to reduce the occurrence of challenging behaviour and the need to use reasonable force. We will only use reasonable force where de-escalation processes are not having impact or where the immediate risk of harm is so high there is not time for such processes.

We  follow government advice for schools on the Use of Reasonable Force in Schools. We will also have regard to additional guidance Reducing the Need for Restraint and Restrictive Intervention for children and young people with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions and mental health difficulties in health and social care services and special education settings. As outlined in government documentation, there are circumstances when it is appropriate for staff in our setting to use reasonable force to safeguard children and young people. These include:

• removing disruptive children from the classroom where they have refused to follow an instruction to do so;

• preventing a pupil behaving in a way that disrupts a school event or a school trip or visit;

• preventing a pupil leaving the classroom where allowing the pupil to leave would risk their safety or lead to behaviour that disrupts the behaviour of others;

• preventing a pupil from attacking a member of staff or another pupil, or to stop a fight in the playground;


• restraining a pupil at risk of harming themselves through physical outbursts.

The term ‘reasonable force’ covers the broad range of actions used by staff that involve a degree of physical contact to control or restrain children. This can range from guiding a child to safety by the arm, to more extreme circumstances such as breaking up a fight or where a young person needs to be restrained to prevent violence or injury. ‘Reasonable’ in these circumstances means us ‘using no more than is needed’. Our use of force my involve either passive physical contact, such as standing between pupils or blocking a pupil’s path, or active physical contact such as leading a pupil by the arms out of the classroom.

We believe that the adoption of a ‘no contact’ policy in our setting – both generally or via exemption of individuals – could leave staff unable to fully support and protect our pupils and students. We will adopt a sensible approach allowing staff to make appropriate physical contact. The decision on whether to or not to use reasonable force to control or restrain a child is down to the professional judgement of the staff concerned and should always depend on individual circumstances.

When using reasonable force in response to risks presented by incidents involving children with SEND, mental health or with medical conditions, we will consider the risks carefully because we recognise the additional vulnerability of these groups. We will consider our duties under the Equality Act 2010 in relation to making reasonable adjustments, non-discrimination and our Public Sector Equality Duty. Limited exemptions for children are only agreed once a formal letter and supporting evidence (such as a doctor’s letter regarding exceptional mental health and/or physical vulnerabilities) has been submitted to the headteacher by the parent/carer, who in turn will seek advice from LA colleagues and – if approved – need to agree alternative approaches with the parent / carer around ensuring we can continue to keep the child safe, others safe and uphold the orderly running of the school.

For more information, please refer to the following:

Any parent, carer or student concerned about the above – be that generally or relating to a specific incident – should follow the school’s Complaints Policy.