How Schools Can Implement Safer Physical Interventions

James Hourihan, Author

It’s no secret that the education landscape is changing. Schools are increasingly looking at ways to keep students safe and secure, while still providing a welcoming and nurturing environment.

In the higher escalation or crisis phase of a situation, it may become necessary for staff to use physical interventions as a last resort in response to a student’s challenging behaviour when all other options have been exhausted. But it is essential that these reactive strategies be used safely and appropriately. 

What are Physical Interventions? 

Unlike restraint (also known as restrictive interventions) which aims to limit a person’s movement or freedom, physical interventions offer a degree of mobility with the least amount of contact possible in order to reduce the risk of injury to the student(s) or staff member(s) involved. This includes blocking, guiding holds, redirection or supervised time-out. 

Although these measures are less forceful, physical interventions should not be used to enforce compliance, or as a form of punishment as this could result in physical and psychological harm. Furthermore, inappropriate use of physical interventions can also lead to legal repercussions for the school if the situation accelerates beyond what was intended

Steps Towards Safer Physical Interventions in Schools 

With our BILD Act certified positive behaviour management training, educators have access to the knowledge and skills required to use positive handling strategies in schools. Thousands of organisations around the UK (and beyond) are already working with us for better outcomes now and down the line. 

Here are some actionable steps that you can take to manage challenging behaviours and create an ideal academic atmosphere for successful learning and engagement.

  1. Establish Clear Policies: Before any situation arises, staff should receive clear guidelines about when it is appropriate to use physical interventions, how much force can be used (if any), and what safety measures must be taken during the process. This helps them understand their roles and responsibilities when it comes to handling disruptive behaviour.
  1. Utilise De-escalation Strategies: Once fully trained, staff have a range of de-escalation strategies in their repertoire so they can defuse potentially dangerous situations before they evolve. Common techniques include active listening, assessing their emotional state and needs, distraction techniques, remaining calm and collected, avoiding confrontational language, using positive reinforcement and offering reassurance.
  1. Provide Physical Intervention Training: All teaching staff should receive adequate training, including instruction on what types of techniques are allowed. It is also important that teachers receive regular refresher courses on these skills so they can stay up-to-date on best practices in this area.
  1. Debriefing & Follow Up Support: Finally, it is essential that schools provide debriefing sessions after each incident involving physical intervention, as well as follow up support if necessary. Debriefings allow all parties involved—the student(s), teacher(s), principal(s), counsellor(s) etc.—to discuss the incident objectively, keep a detailed record for tracking progress and come up with strategies for preventing similar incidents from occurring in the future. 

Learn Safer Physical Interventions with Timian 

By following these steps outlined above, teachers and other school personnel are able to ensure the safety of everyone, whilst still providing their pupils with the care and support they need during challenging times. 

At Timian, we support individuals and organisations to develop the safest physical intervention techniques for managing challenging behaviour. 

Sign up to our physical intervention training or positive behaviour management train-the-trainer course now by filling in the form here on our website, or call 800 987 4075 and a member of our friendly team will be happy to help with your enquiry. 

Sign up to our newsletter to receive our helpful learning resources for free

Further Reading From Timian