Guidelines issued by the Government yesterday detail how teachers may use reasonable force to restrain pupils. They aim to end the belief by many teachers that even touching pupils may lead to legal action. Instead, teachers are told they may use physical restraint not only if a pupil is likely to injure others but also if he or she refuses persistently to leave the classroom.
Other examples of cases where they may use reasonable force include: pupils who run along a corridor in a way likely to cause accidents; serious disruptive behaviour in class and pupils who are at risk because they try to run away from school.
Only in the most exceptional circumstances should teachers take action which might injure, such as slapping or punching, holding a pupil round the neck, twisting or forcing limbs against a joint, tripping them up or holding them by the hair. Usually, restraint would involve touching, holding, pushing, pulling, leading a pupil by the arm or leading them away by putting a hand in the centre of the back. But teachers should not try to tackle burly pupils.
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: the guidance "should go a long way to eliminate false and malicious claims of assault made ... against teachers".
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "In 90 per cent of assaults upon staff the immediate spark for igniting the pupil is the use of physical restraint by the teacher."
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