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Last reviewed on 6 September 2021
Ref: 5698
School types: All · School phases: All

Get to grips with the rules on sanctions and disciplining poor behaviour, including around detentions, isolation and confiscating prohibited items.

All punishments must be 'lawful'

For a punishment to be considered lawful, it must: 

  • Not breach any other legislation (for example, in respect of disability, special educational needs (SEN), race and other equalities and human rights)
  • Be reasonable in all the circumstances, and proportionate – you must take into account the pupil's age, any SEN or disability they have, and any religious requirements affecting them
  • Be awarded by a paid member of school staff or a member of staff authorised by the headteacher (the headteacher may extend this power to adult volunteers)
  • Be awarded on your school premises or while the pupil is under the charge of a member of staff

Note: corporal punishment is illegal in all circumstances.

These requirements are outlined on page 7 of the DfE's advice on behaviour and discipline in schools.

In addition to meeting the criteria above, there are rules for some punishments on what your

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