TEACHERS can use force to restrain disruptive pupils, according to new Government guidelines.
The Department of Children, Schools and Families will allow teachers to physically intervene to stop fights or to maintain discipline in the classroom.
Yesterday schools secretary Ed Balls said: “Teachers have the powers they need to manage bad behaviour but I am aware that many fear retribution if they were to forcibly remove an unruly pupil.
“This is clearly not about punishment, this is about restraint to prevent something happening that would be a danger to somebody
“This guidance aims to stop teachers being afraid of using the powers they have when necessary.
“Myths that schools should have ‘no-contact policies’ and that teachers shouldn't be able to protect and defend themselves and others, will be dispelled by this new guidance which makes clear that in some situations, teachers have the powers and protection to use force.”
The new guidelines were released at the annual conference of National Association of Schoolteachers and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) in Birmingham.
The new policy explains that teachers are allowed to use force when:
Pupils are fighting and could hurt each other
A pupil attacks a teacher or another child
A child deliberately damages property
A pupil continually refuses to leave class when told to do so
A child seriously disrupts class
The guidelines also explain what forms of physical contact are acceptable. Teachers may block the path of pupils or place a hand on their back to usher them away.
If children refuse to stop fighting, teachers are allowed to use a restrictive hold on them.
However, several techniques for restraining violent pupils are banned.
These include a sharp jab under the nose, known as “nose distraction technique” and the “double basket hold”, where the child’s arms are held across their chest.
But Conservative shadow schools secretary Michael Gove criticised the guidelines yesterday.
He said: “Over 1,000 pupils a day are being excluded for assault and abuse.
“A key reason for this is teachers are afraid to tackle violence and disruption in the classroom. One study found that over half of schools now have some form of ‘no-touch’ policy that prevents teachers from restraining troublemakers.”
The NASUWT conference also heard a report saying unruly pupils were driving some teachers to consider taking their own lives.
The stress of the job leads some teachers to suffer from heart palpitations, sleeplessness, depression and eating problems, according to the report.
Delegates at the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in Liverpool voted to campaign against public sector cuts, including pay freezes and pension reductions.
The NUT’s campaign could include strike action.