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Last reviewed on 21 July 2021
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School types: All · School phases: All

Make sure you understand when and how staff can make physical interventions with pupils. Read through our summary of the official guidance, including what it has to say on staff training and reporting incidents.

This article is based on non-statutory guidance from the DfE.

What force is 'reasonable'

'Reasonable force' covers a broad range of actions, used by most teachers at some point in their career, which involve a degree of physical contact with pupils.

The force is usually used either to control or restrain, but no more force is used than necessary.

Examples of when force is used to control pupils can include:

  • In passive physical contact, such as standing between pupils or blocking a pupil's path
  • In active physical contact, such as leading a pupil by the arm out of a classroom

In contrast, restraint means:

  • Holding a pupil back physically
  • Bringing a pupil under control

Restraint is typically used in more extreme circumstances, such as when 2 pupils are fighting and refuse to separate.

Staff should try to avoid acting in a way that might cause injury, but in extreme cases this may not always be possible.

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