Positive Handling Policy


St Thomas a Becket R C Primary School




                           Date of Last Review:                          November 2015


                           Agreed by Governors:                       November 2015


                           Shared with all Staff:                         December 2015


                           Frequency of Review:                       Annually


                           Date of Next Review:                        December 2016


Our Mission Statement


St Thomas a Becket School is a primary school of the Roman Catholic diocese of Southwark.

The aim of the school is to offer excellence of education in accordance with the teaching of the church and to value and develop each child’s potential in a community in which every member is fully respected.

We try to ensure that this is done by:

  • praying together
  • valuing the experiences of each member of the community
  • being a caring, forgiving community
  • living and working and playing together
  • by encouraging the children to achieve the best of their ability




  1. The legal framework


  1. The Definition of Positive Handling at St Thomas a Becket


  1. The Aim of this Policy


  1. Why use Positive Handling


  1. Alternative strategies


  1. The Use of Positive Handling


  1. When Positive Handling becomes necessary


  1. Actions to be taken after an incident


  1. Risk assessment


  1. Complaints


Positive handling should be limited to emergency situations and used only as a last resort. Under the Children Order 1995, it is only permissible as described under the heading "Physical Control".  Article 4 of the Education Order 1998 clarifies powers that already exist in common law.

It enables teachers and other members of staff in the school, authorised by the Headteacher, to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances, to prevent a pupil from:

  • Committing an offence,
  • Causing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any other pupil or person (including the pupil himself),
  • Engaging in any behaviour prejudicial to the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school or among its pupils, whether in the classroom or otherwise.


(Examples of possible situations are given in Appendix 1)



Positive Handling is the positive application of force with the intention of protecting the child from harming him/herself or others or seriously damaging property.



Staff at St Thomas a Becket Primary School recognise that the use of reasonable force is only one of the strategies available to secure pupil safety/ well-being and also to maintain good order and discipline.

The key objectives of the policy are:

  • To protect every person in the school community from harm
  • To protect all pupils against any form of physical intervention which is unnecessary, inappropriate, excessive or harmful
  • To provide adequate information and training for staff so that they are clear as to what constitutes appropriate behaviour and to deal effectively with violent or potentially violent situations




Positive handling should avert danger by preventing or deflecting a child’s action or perhaps by removing a physical object, which could be used to harm him/herself or others. It is only likely to be needed if a child appears to be unable to exercise self-control of emotions and behaviour.

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 school’s Positive Handling Policy.

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 should, therefore, take reasonable action to ensure pupils’ safety and wellbeing.

Failure to positively handle a pupil who is subsequently injured or injures another, could, in certain circumstances, lead to an accusation of negligence. At the same time staff are not expected to place themselves in situations where they are likely to suffer injury as a result of their intervention.




There are some situations in which the need for positive handling is immediate and where there are no equally effective alternatives (e.g. if a pupil is about to run across a road). However, in many circumstances there are alternatives e.g. use of assertiveness skills such as:

  • An instruction is being repeated until the pupil complies
  • Use of a distracter, such as a loud whistle, to interrupt the behaviour (such as a fight) long enough for other methods of verbal control to be effective
  • Withdrawal of attention (audience) e.g. if an action such as damage to property is threatened
  • Other techniques designed to defuse the situation, such as the avoidance of confrontation, or use of humour (in these cases the incident can be dealt with later when emotions are no longer running high)
  • The employment of other sanctions consistent with the School’s policy on Behaviour.




Positive handling 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, allowing the pupil to regain self-control. It should never take a form which could be seen as a punishment.

Staff are only authorised to use reasonable force in applying positive handling, although there is no absolute definition of this, as what constitutes reasonable force depends upon the particular situation and the pupil to whom it is being applied. However, as a general rule, only the force necessary to stop or prevent the behaviour should be used, in accordance with the guidelines below.

There are some forms of physical intervention, which may involve minimal physical contact, such as blocking a pupil’s path or the staff member physically interposing him or herself between the pupil and another pupil or object. However, in some circumstances, direct physical contact may be necessary.

In all circumstances other methods should be used if appropriate or effective and positive handling should be a last resort.






  • Tell the pupil what you are doing and why
  • Use the minimum force necessary
  • Involve another member of staff if possible
  • Tell the pupil what he/she must do for you to remove the restraint (this may need frequent repetition)
  • Use simple and clear language
  • Hold limbs above a major joint if possible e.g. above the elbow
  • Relax your restraint in response to the pupil’s compliance




  • Act in temper (involve another staff member if you fear loss of control)
  • Involve yourself in a prolonged verbal exchange with the pupil
  • Involve other pupils in the restraint
  • Touch or hold the pupil in genital areas
  • Twist or force limbs back against a joint
  • Bend fingers or pull hair
  • Slap, punch, kick or trip up the pupil
  • Hold the pupil in a way which will restrict blood flow or breathing e.g. around the neck




Positive handling often occurs 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 pupil. A member of the leadership team should be informed of any incident as soon as possible and will take responsibility for making arrangements for debriefing once the situation has stabilised.  An appropriate member of the teaching staff should always be involved in debriefing the pupil involved and any victims of the incident should be offered support, and their parents informed.

If the behaviour is part of an ongoing pattern it may be necessary to address the situation through the development of a behavioural IEP, which may include an anger management programme, or other strategies agreed by the SENco.

It is also helpful to consider the circumstances precipitating the incident to explore ways in which future incidents can be avoided.

All incidents should be recorded immediately in the Positive handling Record book stored in the Head teacher’s office. All sections of this report should be completed so that in the event of any future complaint a full record is available.

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.




If we become aware that a pupil is likely to behave in a disruptive way that may need the use of reasonable force, we will plan how to respond if the situation arises. Such planning will address:


  • Management of the pupil ( e.g. reactive strategies to de-escalate a conflict, holds to be used if necessary)


  • Involvement of parents to ensure that they are clear about the specific action the school might need to take


  • Briefing of staff to ensure they know exactly what action they should be taking (this may identify a need for training or guidance)


  • Identification of additional support that can be summoned if appropriate




A clear positive handling 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 disciplinary procedures or by the Police and Social Services department under child protection procedures.


It is our intention to inform all staff, pupils, parents and governors about these procedures and the context in which they apply.