Dealing with disruptive behaviour

School leaders will all be aware of The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill (ASCL Bill) that entered Parliament last year. Proposed legislative changes could affect teacher restraint and use of force powers and includes proposed new powers on searching for alcohol, drugs and stolen items in schools. The Bill could greatly affect the way that the staff in your school deal with disruptive pupils.

The proposal extends the power that teachers and staff in schools and FE institutions currently have to search pupils or students for weapons, so that it also covers illegal drugs, alcohol and stolen items. Any headteacher or authorised member of the school staff will be able to search for these items if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the pupil possesses them. The legislation however does not impose any duty or obligation to carry out a search.

The Teacher Support Network recommends that all school leaders ensure that the entire staff in their school is aware of which members of staff are ‘authorised’ and that they are given clear guidance on how to deal with situations should they arise. Adequate support should be given to staff that choose not to exercise these new powers and they should be given guidance on alternative ways to deal with students who they believe to be carrying weapons, alcohol, drugs or stolen items. This guidance should again be made available to all school staff.

“If the Bill is approved it could be a good opportunity to remind your staff of all the ways in which your school will help them to deal with disruptive pupils, whether it be your policies on bullying or how they can better manage their classrooms, ” says Julian Stanley, chairman of TSN. Advice on all of these issues can be found on the Teacher Support Network website by visiting our online InfoCentre. This includes factsheets such as:

  • Refusal to teach
  • Bullying in the workplace: what is bullying is and how can you deal with it?
  • Tools for effective classroom management
  • Tips for managing conflict with pupils
  • Coping with disruptive pupils
  • Pupil behaviour and teacher wellbeing

The TSN also advises heads to make all staff aware of their rights to use reasonable force. Whilst this should always be used as a last resort, teachers and support staff should still be offered clear, precise advice and guidance on the schools restraint policy so that there can be no confusion. Your school should have a policy on the use of force and, according to The Education and Inspections Act 2006, school staff can use “such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to prevent a pupil from doing or continuing to do” any of the following:

  • Committing any offence (or, for a pupil under the age of criminal responsibility, what would be an offence for an older pupil).
  • Causing personal injury to any person (including the pupil themselves).
  • Causing damage to property belonging to any person (including the pupil themselves).
  • Prejudicing the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school, and among any pupils receiving education at the school, whether during a teaching session or otherwise.

Take part in the TSN violence and disruption survey.

For further help or advice on dealing with disruptive behaviour call TSN’s free, confidential Support Line on 08000 562 561.