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Positive Handling Policy

Co-op Academy Swinton

 Positive Handling Policy

Version: January 2023         Review Date: January 2024


Behaviour is always a form of communication. Understanding that children are communicating through their behaviour gives adults the opportunity to respond differently. When children feel valued, respected and have their needs met, there is no longer a reason to use challenging behaviour to communicate.

Punishing a child for a behaviour may stop the behaviour for the moment, but it does not give the child support or provide alternate ways to act in difficult situations. When adults help children find positive ways to communicate their needs to others, children learn important social and problem solving skills that will help them throughout their life.

At Co-op Academy Swinton we are committed to a positive behaviour policy which encourages children to make positive behaviour choices. On rare occasions circumstances may result in a situation that requires some form of physical intervention by staff.

Our policy for physical intervention is based upon the following principles:

  • Physical intervention should be used only as a last resort when other appropriate strategies have failed;
  • Any physical contact should be only the minimum required;
  • Physical intervention must be used in ways that maintain the safety and dignity of all concerned;
  • Incidents must be recorded and reported to the Headteacher as soon as possible;
  • Parents/carers will be informed on the day of the incident.

The purpose of this document

Co-op Academy Swinton believes everyone has a right to:

  • Recognition of their unique identity;
  • Be treated with respect and dignity;
  • Learn and work in a safe environment;
  • Be protected from harm, violence, assault and acts of verbal abuse.

Students and their parents attending Co-op Academy Swinton have a right to:

  • Individual consideration of student needs by the staff who have responsibility for their care and protection;
  • Expect staff to undertake their duties and responsibilities in accordance with the academy's policies;
  • Be informed about academy rules, relevant policies and the expected conduct of all students and staff working in the academy.
  • be informed about the academy’s complaints procedure

The school will ensure that students are given support to understand the need for and respond to clearly defined limits, which govern behaviour in the academy.

Managing challenging behaviour

Co-op Academy Swinton also recognises that there is a need, reflected in common law, to physically intervene when there is an obvious risk to the safety of children, staff and property. This applies both on and off setting sites. If used at all, the use of force to control or restrain students will be used in the context of a respectful, supportive relationship with the child in order to ensure minimal risk of injury to children and staff. If possible, the use of restraint needs a second adult present to assist with and/or witness the incident - restraint means to hold back physically or to bring a student under control - if there is no other choice but to do so it should be for the shortest amount of time possible whilst waiting for help and assistance from other staff.

The Legal Framework

Section 93 of the Education & Inspections Act 2006 allows ‘teachers and other persons who are authorised by the Headteacher who have control or charge of students to use such force as is reasonable in all the circumstances to prevent a pupil from doing, or continuing to do, any of the following:

  • ● Causing injury to his/herself or others;
  • ● Committing an offence;
  • ● Damaging property;
  • ● Prejudicing the maintenance of good order and discipline.

Our approach

At Co-op Academy Swinton we aim to avoid the need for physical intervention and regard this as a last resort in managing situations. We always aim to deal with behaviour using a positive approach and therefore this policy should be read in connection with our Behaviour Policy.

It is not possible to define every circumstance in which physical restraint would be necessary or appropriate and staff will have to exercise their own judgement in situations which arise within the above categories. Staff should always act within the Academies policy on behaviour and discipline, particularly in dealing with disruptive behaviour.

Staff should be aware that when they are in charge of children during the school day, or during other supervised activities, they are acting ‘in loco parentis’ and have a ‘Duty of Care’ to all children they are in charge of. They must, therefore, take reasonable action to ensure all students’ safety and wellbeing and have a lawful justification for taking reasonable physical steps to prevent injury to any person, or damage to property. Taking no action which results in a person being injured, could leave a member of staff open to an allegation that they were in neglect of their Duty of Care.

Staff will always follow the principle enshrined in The Children's Act whereby the safety and wellbeing of the children is paramount. Staff will act in accordance with the ‘best interests principle’, acting honestly and in good faith to protect what they perceive to be in the best interest of the child/children.

Staff are not expected to place themselves in situations where they are likely to suffer injury as a result of their intervention. Staff should understand the importance of listening to and respecting children to create an environment that is calm and supportive, especially when dealing with children who may have emotional and behavioural needs, which may increase their aggression. All staff should understand the importance of responding to the feelings of the child, which lie beneath the behaviour, as well as the behaviour itself.

If a child is behaving disruptively or anti-socially, every non-physical strategy will be used to manage the behaviour positively to prevent a deterioration of the situation. Staff should view physical intervention with a child as a ‘last resort’ and for the purposes of maintaining a safe environment.

Examples of situations where positive handling may be appropriate include:

  • when a student attacks member of staff;
  • when a student attacks another student;
  • when a student is engaging in, or on the verge of, committing deliberate damage or vandalism to property;
  • when a student is causing or at risk of causing injury or damage by accident, by rough play or by misuse of dangerous materials or objects;
  • when a student is at risk of absconding from class or tries to leave the academy
  • when a student persistently refuses to obey an order to leave a classroom
  • when a student is seriously disrupting a lesson

Refusal of a student to remain in a particular place is not enough on its own to justify force. It would be justifiable where allowing a student to leave would:

  • entail serious risks to the student’s safety (taking into account age and understanding), to the safety of other students or staff, or of damage to property

Use of physical restraint

Physical restraint should be applied as an act of care and control with the intention of re-establishing verbal control as soon as possible and, at the same time, allows the student to regain self-control. It should never take a form which could be seen as punishment. Staff response to an incident should seek to employ a gradually increasing or decreasing level of force in response to a student’s behaviour as set out in the child’s Positive Behaviour Support PLan (PBSP).

Staff are only authorised to use reasonable force in applying physical restraint, although there is no absolute definition of this. What constitutes reasonable force depends upon the particular situation and the student to whom it is being applied. Staff should apply the training they receive to de-escalate where possible then use the appropriate holds as practised in the training. However, as a general rule, only the force necessary to stop or prevent danger should be used, in accordance with the guidelines below and should only be used when the risks involved in doing so are outweighed by the risks involved in not using force.

Staff need to be aware that they are required to justify their decisions in writing through the recording and reporting procedures outlined later in this policy.

When circumstances justify, staff as a last resort, may:-

  • physically interpose between students
  • block a student’s path
  • hold a student in a controlled manner
  • use escorting techniques in a controlled manner
  • in extreme circumstances, use more restrictive holds

During any incident when physical restraint becomes necessary:


  • Tell the student what they are doing wrong and request for the student to refrain;
  • Make a further request and explain what will happen if the unacceptable behaviour continues;
  • Warning of intention to intervene physically and that this will cease when the student complies. If possible summon assistance from other staff;
  • Use the physical intervention, applying minimum force necessary and in line with legislation and guidance;
  • Staff are expected to continue to use all available verbal and non-verbal support and de-escalation strategies to diffuse difficult situations;
  • Use simple and clear language;


  • Act in temper (involve another staff member if you fear loss of control);
  • Involve yourself in a prolonged verbal exchange with the student;
  • Involve other students in the restraint;
  • Touch or hold the student in a way that could be viewed as sexually inappropriate conduct;
  • Twist or force limbs back against a joint;
  • Bend fingers or pull hair;
  • Hold the student in a way which will restrict blood flow or breathing e.g. around the neck;
  • Slap, punch, kick or trip up the student;
  • Use physical restraint or intervention as a punishment.

Reasonable Force

There is no legal definition of ‘reasonable force’. It will always depend upon the circumstances of each individual case. The use of any degree of force is unlawful if the particular circumstances do not warrant the use of physical force.

The degree of force employed must be in proportion to the circumstances of the incident and must be the minimum needed to achieve the desired result.

Whether the degree of force used is reasonable will also be determined by the child’s age; gender; stature; medical history; level of physical, emotional and intellectual development; special needs; and social context.

Responsibility of staff

The Education and Inspections Act authorises all staff at the school to use reasonable force to control or restrain students. The Headteacher/ Principal will ensure that all staff are aware of, and understand, what the authorisation entails.

Where a student is recognised as likely to behave in ways which may require physical control, staff should initiate the production of an Individual Pupil Risk Assessment (IPRA) and a Positive Behaviour Support Plan (PBSP). This plan will be drawn up in conjunction with the SEND co-ordinator and shared with all pertinent staff at the school. The plan will also be made available and discussed with the child, their parents/carers, families and other relevant stakeholders.

Students’ PBPSs are Safe Systems of Work under Health and Safety Regulations. As such it is imperative that these plans are followed and implemented by all members of staff.

Any force used must be appropriate in the sense that s ‘reasonable adult’ should think it suitably addresses the tariff level of challenging behaviour. It should always be the last resort and in no circumstance be used in anger and/or to inflict pain.

Adults must avoid putting themselves into physical danger. If self-defence is necessary then the minimum force must be used.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employees have a responsibility to report any circumstances which give rise to an increased risk to their health and safety. Staff who have, or acquire, permanently or temporarily, any medical condition that may impact on their ability to carry out student’s PBSPs have a duty to report these to the Headteacher immediately, as there may be an impact on their own safety and that of colleagues and/or students.

Definitions of Positive Behaviour Support

Positive Behaviour Support describes a broad spectrum of risk reduction strategies. Positive Behaviour Support is a holistic approach involving policy, guidance, management of the environment and deployment of staff. It also involves personal behaviour, diversion, diffusion and de-escalation.

Positive Behaviour Support Plans are a plan for the positive management of students’ challenging behaviour. They are based on a risk assessment and identify positive prevention strategies and how a student may need to be supported in a crisis.

  • Physical intervention - the use of any physical handling techniques that has the student’s compliance, eg; promoting, shepherding
  • Restrictive physical interventions (RPI), Restraint - the positive application of force in order to overcome rigorous resistance, completely directing and controlling a person's free movement. i.e the student is no longer compliant

A planned intervention is one that is described/outlined in the student’s PBSP. This should cover most interventions, as possible scenarios will be identified and planned for when the PBSP is drawn up. These interventions may include the use of Team - Teach physical intervention techniques.

An emergency physical intervention may be necessary if a situation arises that was not foreseen or is uncharacteristic of the student. Members of staff retain their Duty of Care to students and any response, even in an emergency, must be proportionate to the circumstances. Staff should use the minimum force necessary to prevent injury and maintain safety, consistent with the training they have received. Following any such incident, a PBSP will be devised (or the existing plan be updated) to support effective responses to any such situations which may arise in the future.

Positive Behaviour Support Plans (PBSP)

Where behaviour records and/or risk assessment identifies a need for a planned approach, PBSPs are written for individual children and where possible, these will be designed through multi agency collaboration in conjunction with the student and their parent/carer. With parental consent, these plans may be shared with other agencies/services supporting the child to facilitate consistency of approach so far as is possible.

Where a PBSP is required, a meeting will take place between the school, the child, their parent/carer and any other stakeholder/service where appropriate, to set out a written plan that will identify the key drivers and trigger points from the student’s behaviour and a gradual and graded system of staff response which may include the application of gradually increasing or decreasing levels of force in response to the student’s behaviour.

The purpose of the PBSP is to provide all staff with the necessary information to deal with behaviour effectively and consistently, avoiding the need for any physical intervention. The plan needs to cover this however, in the event that all else has failed.

Any techniques used will take account of a young person’s;

  • age
  • gender
  • level of physical, emotional and intellectual development
  • special needs
  • social context

Personal Safety

There may be times when a member of staff may need to defend themselves from a physical assault or ‘break away’ from a child who has taken hold of them. It is acknowledged that with some disengagement techniques students may encounter some minimal discomfort when appropriate release techniques are used. However, this is very brief, transient and poses less of a risk than the behaviour they are employed in response to, e.g. biting.

All staff will be given input on key skills and principles regarding personal safety and self-defence, as part of their ongoing training.

Seclusion, time out and withdrawal

Time out

This involves restricting a child's access to positive reinforcements as part of the PBSP, in a room or area which they may freely leave. It is a specific behaviour management technique and does not necessarily mean time spent out of the class/group, but rather refers to a withdrawal of attention and/or things they find rewarding (it could be as simple as turning away from a child who is attention seeking, or positioning a child away from the class/group). This withdrawal of attention could also be achieved by sending a student to another class/group or a quiet area.


Which involves removing the child from a situation which causes anxiety or distress to a location where they can be continuously observed and supported until they are ready to resume their usual activities. This can mean removing a child from the class/group to allow them time to calm down or to prevent a situation from escalating. They may need time away from staff and students (either on their own or in another class/group) in order to break the cycle/pattern of their behaviour or to reduce their level of anxiety/distress. This ‘quiet time’ could be time in the playground, a quiet room, or sitting in an office supervised by a member of the leadership team.


Where an adult or child is forced to spend time alone against their will in a locked room or room which they can not leave. Seclusion could be deemed to be a breach of a person’s human rights unless sanctioned by a lawful order, or unless used in an emergency situation where there is a significant risk of harm. This strategy will only ever be used in exceptional circumstances where the risks involved with its use are outweighed by the risks that are presented, that is necessary and proportionate response to risk. Any child left alone in a room that they are unable to exit willingly, must be continually monitored by a member of staff. The use of seclusion must be recorded and be followed up as per any other form of RPI.

Restrictive Physical Interventions and Risk Assessment

Both challenging behaviour and RPI will involve a risk to both staff and students. A risk assessment aims to balance these risks. The aim of the individual student’s PBSP and of this policy is to reduce the risks associated with students challenging behaviour as far as it is reasonably practicable - the risks associated with the behaviour itself and the risk of managing that behaviour.

The risks of employing an intervention should be lower than the risk of not doing so. Students whose challenging behaviour may pose a risk to staff or students will be subject to an Individual Pupil Risk Assessment IPRA and will have a PBSP drawn up as a result of this. These will be shared with all staff and stored in the staffroom.

For any extremely challenging students, they may have Team-Teach Ground Recovery Holds written into their PBSPs. These are advanced techniques and carry elevated levels of risk. As a result, these are only considered as a possibility if a comprehensive risk assessment indicates that there is a foreseeable risk of serious injury due to a student’s behaviour if their behaviour cannot be controlled in any other way. There are very clear and strict safeguards for these circumstances and a multidisciplinary meeting would be called prior to a ground hold being advised for a student. These techniques would not be part of a planned response without consultation with parents/carers. Without parental support for the planned intervention, an alternative provision may need to be found. Staff who may need to use these advanced techniques will receive additional advanced training.


Training on managing behaviour at some level will be available for all staff at Co-op Academy Swinton. For most staff this is enhanced by Team-Teach training in the use of positive handling and it is the responsibility of the Headteacher/Principal to ensure this training is kept up to date.

No member of staff will be expected to use Team Teach techniques without appropriate training. Arrangements for training will be made clear as part of the induction of staff and training will be provided as part of on-going staff development. Co-op Academy Swinton is committed to using Team-Teach. Team-Teach Ltd is a training provider that is accredited through the Institute of Conflict Management (ICM).

Actions and support after an incident

Incidents outlined in this policy often occur in response to highly charged emotional situations and there is a clear need for debriefing after the incident, both for the staff involved and the student. The Headteacher should be notified of any incident immediately and will take responsibility for making arrangements for debriefing once the situation has stabilised. An appropriate member of staff should always be involved in debriefing the student involved and any victims of the incident should be offered support. The parents/carers will be informed at the earliest possible opportunity.

If the behaviour is part of an ongoing pattern it may be necessary to address the situation through the development of a PBSP, which may include an anger management programme, or other strategies. This may require additional support from other services.

In some circumstances an Education and Health Assessment (EHA) may be appropriate to help identify an additional need for a particular child.

All incidents of RPI should be recorded as soon as possible on the Restrictive Physical Intervention for (attached). All sections of this report should be completed so that any patterns of behaviour can be identified and addressed. In the event of any future complaint or allegation this record will provide essential and accurate information.

A copy of the form will be scanned onto the student’s CPOMS record and logged under the category ‘Physical Restraint/Care and Control’ The original will be stored in a secure file with the Headteacher/Principal and may be used in order to inform individual and school risk assessments.

The Principal/Headteacher will ensure that each incident is reviewed and investigated further as required. If further action is required in relation to a member of staff or a student, this will be pursued through the appropriate procedure:

  • Review of the Positive Behaviour Support Plan
  • Child Protection Procedure (this may involve the police and/or Social Care)
  • Staff or Student Disciplinary Procedures
  • School Behaviour Policy
  • Exclusions Procedure in the case of violence or assault against a member of staff

The member of staff will be kept informed of any action taken. In the case of any action concerning a member of staff, she/he will be advised to seek advice from her/his professional association/union.

There may be occasions where physical intervention could be perceived in a negative way; please discuss with your Line Manager and record if appropriate.

A member of the leadership team will contact parents as soon as possible after an incident, and usually (unless exceptional circumstances prevent this) on the same day, to inform them of the actions that were taken and why, and to provide them with an opportunity to discuss it.

Debriefing Arrangements

The child/young person and the member of staff will be checked for any sign of injury after an incident. First aid will be administered to anyone who requires it, or medical treatment obtained.

  • The student will be given time in a quiet and calm space where staff continue to supervise them.
  • When the child regains complete composure, a senior member of staff will allow the person to tell us what has happened first.
  • They will then be given our (or others) perspective of the situation.
  • Through careful questioning, we will connect the behaviour to the drivers, i.e. we will seek to discover not just what happened but why it happened.
  • We will explore alternative ways that a situation could have been dealt with.
  • We will ensure that plans are put in place (or reviewed if a PBSP already exists) to help us deal with any future incidents.
  • We will consider the emotional well being of the person and how best to re-engage them back to their normal working environment.

All necessary steps will be taken to re-establish the relationship between the child and the member(s) of staff involved in the incident. In cases where it is not possible to speak to the student on the same day as the incident occurred, the debrief will take place as soon as possible after the child returns to school.

All members of staff involved should be allowed a period of debrief and recovery from the incident. A senior member of staff (or their nominee) will provide support to the member(s) of staff involved.

The Headteacher (or their nominee) will initiate the recording process if not already under way and review each incident to ensure that any necessary lessons are learned.

Arrangements for informing parents

All parents/carers will be informed immediately after an incident where Restrictive Physical Intervention has been applied with a child. Parents/carers will need to be notified sensitively and to be made aware of the full circumstances.

Parents/carers should be informed of the academy’s policy regarding Positive Handling and their Behaviour Policy.

Staff who work with particular children who have learning or physical disabilities (and who have Individual Education Plans, Individual Behaviour Plans and/or Pastoral Support Plans), may need to use specific techniques routinely to manage challenging behaviour. Such arrangements must be discussed with parents/carers in advance on an individual basis using PBSP. All interventions will be routinely recorded and monitored with the expectation that steps are taken to reduce the number of restrictive physical interventions year on year.

Recording an incident

All incidents where staff feel that they have used force to modify behaviour or conduct should be recorded. It is not necessary to record every incident of contact with a child, but where a member of staff perceives that contact has been received at all negatively, they are advised to record the circumstances.

Restrictive Physical Intervention (RPI) Recording Forms are available From Ebony Chadwich ( Headteachers PA) and should be submitted to her. The Headteacher/Principal will be informed of the intervention that has taken place. It is the responsibility of the intervening member of staff to complete the record form on the day that the intervention took place or the next day if appropriate.

The Restrictive Physical Intervention record will be scanned onto the student’s CPOMS record and logged under the category ‘Physical restraint/Care and control’ The original will be stored in a secure file with the Headteacher/Principal a copy may also be held on the record of the student.

The Headteacher will ensure that parents/carers are appropriately informed on the same day as the incident. It is also expected that the child’s Social Worker be informed if they are Looked After. For the safeguarding of both staff and students, any subsequent investigation of the situation/incident should be undertaken by a member of staff other than the one applying the physical intervention.

Child witnesses may also be asked to provide a written account if appropriate.

A copy of this will be kept on the child’s file and retained in line with guidance on keeping educational records. The academy will maintain a report of any injuries to the child or staff and seek medical intervention immediately if necessary.

Monitoring incidents

Whenever a member of staff has occasion to use reasonable force, this will always be recorded and documented following agreed procedures. Monitoring of incidents will help to ensure that staff are following the correct procedures and will alert the Headteacher/Principal to the needs of any student(s) whose behaviour may require the use of reasonable force.

Monitoring of incidents will take place on a regular basis and the results used to inform planning to meet individual student and school needs.

Complaints and Allegations

A clear restraint policy, adhered to by all staff and shared with parents, should help to avoid complaints from parents. It is unlikely to prevent all complaints, however, and a dispute about the use of force by a member of staff might lead to an investigation, either under the complaints disciplinary or allegation management procedures. It is our intention to inform all staff, students, parents and governors about these procedures and the context in which they apply.

In the event of a complaint or allegation that a member of staff has used unreasonable force or where a child has been injured during a physical intervention, the Headteacher/Principal should in all circumstances undertake a consultation with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) in line with the academy’s Safeguarding and Child Protection procedures and the Trust Managing Allegations procedures.

For other types of complaints relating to an incident, the normal procedures of the academy will be used and these will be made clear to all parents/carers.


Whilst the training in Team Teach provided to staff encourages the use of help protocols and reflective practice, it is acknowledged that under some circumstances, physical intervention can be misapplied.

Staff are reminded that part of their Duty of Care to students includes the requirement to report any such matters which cause them concern in relation to student management and welfare. Any such concerns should be raised with the Headteacher/Principal or other Senior Manager or the Chief Education Officer to allow concerns to be addressed and practice improve.

Searching student - Power to search students without consent

In addition to the general power to use reasonable force described above, Headteachers and authorised staff can use such force as is reasonable given the circumstances to conduct a search for the following “prohibited items”:

  • knives and weapons
  • alcohol
  • illegal drugs
  • stolen items
  • tobacco and cigarette papers
  • Fireworks
  • pornographic images
  • any article that has been or is likely to be used to commit an offence, cause personal injury or damage to property.

Force cannot be used to search for items banned under the academy rules. Under these circumstances, the Education Act 2011 extends the power of staff to search students without their consent. Students will be offered the opportunity to have their parents/carers present. For further information the DfE have provided guidance on Searching, Screening and Confiscation. A member of the leadership team will contact parents as soon as possible after an incident, normally on the same day, to inform them of the actions that were taken and why, and to provide them with an opportunity to discuss it.

Key Legal References

This Positive Handling guidance is written with reference to the following key legal concepts and documents:

  • DfE Use of Reasonable Force Guidance;
  • Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 (concepts of Assault, and Assault and Battery);
  • Common Law concepts of false imprisonment and common law defence;
  • Duty of Care;
  • DfE Circular 10/98;
  • The Children Act 1989;
  • DoH/DfES Joint Guidance on Physical Interventions 2002;
  • The Education Act 1996;
  • Education and Inspection Act 2006;
  • Screening, searching and confiscation - advice for Headteachers, staff and governing bodies;
  • Human Rights Act 1998;
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995;
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Covid-19 Amendment

Co-op Academy Swinton recognises during the Covid-19 outbreak that there is still a need, reflected in common law, to physically intervene when there is an obvious risk to the safety of children, staff and property. This applies both in and out of the setting.

At Co-op Academy Swinton we aim to avoid the need for physical intervention and regard this as a last resort in managing situations. We always aim to deal with behaviour using a positive approach and therefore this policy should be read in connection with our Behaviour Policy. During restrictions due to Covid-19, the need to avoid close physical contact increases, and therefore any interventions should be undertaken with due regard to personal safety.

Where there is increased probability that a student will behave in a disruptive and/or challenging manner, and may require the use of reasonable force, the academy will:

  • Undertake an individual risks assessment;
  • Implement strategies to be used prior to intervention;
  • Communicate ways of avoiding ‘triggers,’ if these are known;
  • Involve parents/carers to ensure that they are clear about the specific action the school might need to take;
  • Brief staff to ensure they know exactly what action they should be taking;
  • Identify additional support that can be summoned if appropriate.

If behaviour escalates, in circumstances that cannot reasonably be foreseen, the following action will be taken:

  • Give the child clear warning.
  • Offer an escape route from the situation, for example, through calming or following instructions; offer choices.
  • Wherever and whenever possible, remove adults/children from the situation; this is much safer than intervening physically.
  • Promptly summon support from trained colleagues, and supervise calming/regulation time.
  • PPE is available in all First Aid Cupboards (breakout kits); if situation escalates, make use of PPE; this is where additional capacity is critical.
  • Remain mindful not to crowd or intimidate; a reconciliatory manner is more important than ever.
  • Follow the Co-op Academy Swinton debriefing and recording positive handling policy.

Where students face a clear risk of harm, colleagues must assess the gravity of the risk, and respond appropriately.

                                                                                  Positive Handling Policy-January 2023