Positive Handling in Schools


Started on July 19, 2024

Positive Handling in Schools

Positive handling is the common term that defines the physically restraint of a primary and special needs school student. It refers to a graduated approach to manage extreme behaviour and employ the least intrusive form of physical intervention. Positive handling intervention takes place over short periods of time to manage the student’s behaviour.

The course looks at some examples and statistics, that highlight the seriousness and extent of aggressive pupil behaviour, and how crucial it is to know how it can be handled while complying with the law.

The Aggression Curve

This positive handling training course examines the mechanics of aggressive behaviour, because understanding this pattern is the first step to effectively defusing and controlling potentially difficult situations.

You will learn about the five phases from baseline behaviour, escalation, crisis, recovery and post crisis depression phase.  Understanding the aggression curve will help staff understand how to behave and react at the different phases of the cycle.

SCARF Techniques

Here we look at some of the techniques used to help bring aggressive behaviour under control including SCARF, first published in 2008 by Dr. David Rock, the director of the neuro Leadership Institute, which operates in 24 countries. This model can be used to identify things that can trigger aggression, namely, if you say or do anything that adversely affect someone’s status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness or sense of fairness, then it’s more likely to provoke a more limbic response, increased aggression or violence.

The acronym SCARF stands for

  • Status, which is about relative importance to others.
  • Certainty, which concerns being able to predict the future
  • Autonomy, which provides people with a sense of control over events,
  • Relatedness, which is a sense of safety with others,

Fairness, which is a perception of fair exchanges between people.

Duty of Care and Government Advice

The Department for Education guidance 2012 document makes it clear that schools should not have a no contact policy as part of their positive policy plan. There is a real risk that such a policy might place a member of staff in breach of their duty of care towards a pupil or prevent them taking action to prevent a pupil causing harm.

The course looks at the official advice you can use as a basis for the actions you take to bring aggressive and violent behaviour under control. The government offer advice in the document called “Use of reasonable force advice for head teachers, staff, and governing bodies.” It is highly recommended to read this booklet and part of your positive handling training.

Key Acts of Parliament

We examine the hierarchy of law in the UK relating to positive handling in schools and how each is implemented. We look at some specific acts of parliament that are most relevant to the topic in greater detail.  The hierarchy referred to is:

  • European Convention of Human Rights
  • UK Human Rights Act,
  • health and safety at Work Act,
  • common law and statute laws,
  • the school’s policy and procedure links to government guidance.

Intervention Skills and Conflict Resolution

Module 8 looks at best practice when having to intervene and restrain a pupil who is endangering themselves or the people around them. intervention is a subject that has to be considered very carefully. There is a risk of not intervening – in that people can be injured or killed. But we also need to be aware of and be able to manage the risks when we do decide to intervene.

The biggest risk when restraining a pupil is without doubt positional asphyxia, which results from a body position that interferes with the ability to breathe.  You will learn about the dangers of certain restraint techniques.

Safe hold techniques are discussed where immobilisation, and restriction is achieved with a relatively firm and low level interventions.

Screening, Searching and Confiscation

The course concludes with best practice and rules around screening, searching and confiscation. Schools can require pupils to undergo screening by a walkthrough or handheld metal detector, even if they do not suspect them of having a weapon and without the consent of the pupils.

There is a government document titled screening, searching and confiscation advice for had teachers, staff and governing bodies. and this positive handling training offers a brief summary of its key features including screening with and without consent.

Course ContentModule
The Course Structure1
A Serious Business2
The Aggression Curve3
The SCARF Model4
Government Advice and Guidance5
Making Decisions: Duty of Care6
The Law7
Physical Intervention and Restraint8
Screening, Searching and Confiscation9
Course Assessment

This online assessment for positive handling training is carried out over a series of multiple choice questions. Candidates must answer 70% of the questions correctly to pass each module. We advise you to complete each module and answer the question before moving on to the next module. This provides a better learning experience because you will need to have knowledge from earlier modules to understand some of the material in the later modules. For those who complete the course successfully, a PDF certificate of the award is sent directly to your inbox.  Hard copies of the award are available on request.  The course takes 100 minutes of training to complete. This is course content only and does not cover the time it takes to answer questions.

Related and relevant courses to Positive Handling Training

Safeguarding Children
Learning Disability Awareness