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Safe handling and Reasonable Force Policy







St Patrick’s Primary School and Magheradroll Nursery Unit Primary School aims to deliver a broad and balanced education for each of its pupils. The paramount responsibility of every person connected with the school is the safety and welfare of its children. Through a sense of order and a sense of purpose the care and education of our children are made more effective.

It is within this context that safe handling and the use of reasonable force may, on

occasion, be necessary. Accountability for the use of reasonable force/restraint will lie within the aims which we have made clear for such circumstances.

Aims in Relation to Safe handling and the Use of Reasonable Force

  1. To protect every person in the school community from harm.
  2. To create a learning environment in which children and adults feel safe.
  3. To protect all pupils against any form of physical intervention, that is unnecessary,

inappropriate, excessive or harmful.

  1. To provide both teaching and non-teaching staff with guidance relating to

circumstances in which reasonable force might be used and how such reasonable

force might be applied.

  1. To maintain a clear detailed record of when and why reasonable force has to be


Reasonable Force as a Possible Necessity

The Department of Education Circular 1999/9 quotes Article 4 of the Education

(Northern Ireland) Order 1998. On any occasion where a member of staff has

responsibility for a pupil (in school or outside the premises) this order permits the

member of staff to use ‘such force as is reasonable’ in the circumstances to prevent a pupil from:

  1. committing an offence
  2. causing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including
  3. the pupil himself/herself)
  4. engaging in any behaviour prejudicial to the maintenance of good order and
  5. discipline at the school or among any of its pupils, whether during a teaching
  6. session or otherwise.

At St Patrick’s Primary School and Magheradroll Nursery Unit the use of reasonable force with children will always be as a last resort or in an emergency where it is possible that significant harm will occur if action is not taken immediately. It will never be used as a punishment.

Situations where reasonable force might be necessary include:

  • a pupil attacking another pupil or a member of staff
  • to stop pupils fighting
  • a pupil causing, or likely to cause damage or injury by rough play, accident, wilful action or misuse of dangerous materials and items
  • a pupil running in a corridor where there is a risk of an accident
  • a pupil trying to leave school
  • a pupil defying repeated instructions to leave a classroom
  • a pupil seriously disrupting a lesson

Definition of Safe Handling and Reasonable Force

The use of reasonable force is only lawful if circumstances warrant it. The degree of

force used will be the minimum appropriate to the seriousness of the behaviour or incident that it is intended to prevent. It will be employed calmly and in a professional manner.

This might include:-

  • physically separating pupils
  • blocking a pupil’s path
  • holding
  • leading a pupil by the hand or arm
  • shepherding a pupil with a hand on the back or shoulder
  • (in extreme circumstances) using more restrictive holds

Unacceptable and Unreasonable Force

The following uses of force will always be considered unreasonable and therefore will not be used in St Patrick’s Primary School and Magheradroll Nursery Unit Primary School:

  • holding around the neck
  • any hold that might restrict breathing
  • kicking, slapping or punching
  • forcing limbs against joints
  • tripping
  • holding by the hair or ear
  • holding the pupil face down on the ground

Anticipating the Use of Reasonable Force

Having completed both an individual risk assessment and an environmental risk assessment for the purposes of pupil safety and promoting positive behaviour, the situation will continue to be monitored. All staff will be encouraged to report concerns relating to routines, individuals and situations that have the potential to lead to incidents requiring the use of reasonable force. In particular, all members of staff have been briefed on the necessity for monitoring risk in their own teaching environment.

If it is considered likely that a pupil will be sufficiently disruptive to require the use of

reasonable force (whether for medical, special needs or another reason), the

parents/carer will be consulted and an appropriate action plan agreed.

Teachers and adult assistants will only exercise the use of reasonable force in

extreme circumstances. In an emergency any member of staff will have the authority to use reasonable force.


Any complaint following the use of reasonable force will be considered according to the procedures outlined in the school’s policy for dealing with complaints made against a teacher.


This policy has been written and agreed in line with the Department of Education

Circular 1999/9 and ‘Regional Policy Framework on the Use of Reasonable Force/Safehandling’ May 2014.

It will be reviewed annually in relation to ongoing individual and environmental risk

analysis, advice and training. It will be available to parents as appropriate.

St Patrick’s Primary School and Magheradroll Nursery Unit

Record of Incident Requiring the Use of Reasonable Force


Pupil:                                                                                       Class:



    Name of adult witness(s):                               Position/Role     within the school/nursery:   



Member(s) of staff who employed     reasonable force:



Reasons for use of reasonable force (tick as appropriate)



To ensure safety



To preserve order





Details of any     measures introduced following the incident:




Details of injury     and/or damage:




Account of     incident (include description of incident, reasonable force, pupil


response,     outcome)


To prevent destruction

Signatures of staff involved:

Principal’s Signature:                                                                          Date:

Copies to:

  1. 1.Child’s file, 2. Staff involved, 3. Chairperson of B of G, 4. Parent/Carer (if required)