Physical Intervention Policy
The use of corporal punishment is prohibited for all students at all times. This covers the actions of all members of staff whether in loco parentis or not.
(section 131 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998)
Physical intervention/Reasonable force
- The term ‘reasonable force’ covers the broad range of actions that involve a degree of physical contact with students.
- Force is usually used either to control or restrain. This can range from guiding a student to safety by the arm through to more extreme circumstances such as breaking up a fight or where a student needs to be restrained to prevent violence or injury.
- ‘Reasonable in the circumstances’ means using no more force than is needed.
- As mentioned above, schools generally use force to control students and to restrain them. Control means either passive physical contact, such as standing between students or blocking a student’s path, or active physical contact such as leading a student by the arm out of a classroom.
- Restraint means to hold back physically or to bring a student under control. It is typically used in more extreme circumstances, for example when two students are fighting and refuse to separate without physical intervention.
- School staff should always try to avoid acting in a way that might cause injury, but in extreme cases it may not always be possible to avoid injuring the student.
Who can use reasonable force?
- All members of school staff have a legal power to use reasonable force.
- This power applies to any member of staff at the school. It can also apply to people whom the Principal/Vice Principal has temporarily put in charge of students such as unpaid volunteers or parents accompanying students on a school organised visit.
When can reasonable force be used?
- Reasonable force can be used to prevent students from hurting themselves or others, from damaging property, or from causing disorder.
- In a school, force is used for two main purposes – to control students or to restrain them.
- The decision on whether or not to physically intervene is down to the professional judgement of the staff member concerned and should always depend on the individual circumstances.
The following list is not exhaustive but provides some examples of situations where reasonable force can and cannot be used.
Staff can use reasonable force to:
- remove disruptive children from the classroom where they have refused to follow an instruction to do so;
- prevent a student behaving in a way that disrupts a school event or a school trip or visit;
- prevent a student leaving the classroom where allowing the student to leave would risk their safety or lead to behaviour that disrupts the behaviour of others;
- prevent a student from attacking a member of staff or another student, or to stop a fight in the playground; and
- restrain a student at risk of harming themselves through physical outbursts.
- use force as a punishment – it is always unlawful to use force as a punishment.
Power to search students without consent
In addition to the general power to use reasonable force described above, the Principal/Vice Principals 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
- illegal drugs
- stolen items
- tobacco and cigarette papers
- 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 school rules.
In deciding what is a serious incident, teachers should use their professional judgement and consider the:
- student’s behaviour and level of risk presented at the time of the incident;
- degree of force used;
- effect on the student or member of staff; and
- the child’s age.
Staff are required to record the incident in writing.
Inform the Vice Principal Pastoral of any incidents where physical intervention was used and pass a detailed report of the circumstances of the incident and the reasons for using physical intervention to him/her within 24 hours of the incident. The VPP will inform parents of the incident that involved the physical intervention.
Most recent review / amendment
VPP July 2020