Effective student behaviour management - the board's role

Ko tā te poari tūnga whakahaere tōtika i te whanonga ākonga

Seclusion of a child or young person is no longer an acceptable tool in student behaviour management, and physical restraint is a serious intervention that should only be used in circumstances where it is absolutely necessary. 

Read on to find out more about the board's responsibilities and what support is available for the school when dealing with challenging student behaviour. 

Your responsibilities as a board

  • Have a policy in place around managing challenging behaviour and physical restraint
  • Authorise non-teaching staff to use physical restraint
  • Make sure:
    • the school is a safe physical and emotional environment for students and staff
    • every incident of physical restraint is notified to the student’s parents and caregivers, the board, and the Ministry of Education
    • Parents and caregivers are notified if physical restraint is an element in their student’s Individual Behaviour Plan
  • Monitor incidents when physical restraint is used to look for trends. Take action at governance level to support reducing such incidents. This will be around the board's strategic planning, reporting and self-review
  • Also make sure:
    • authorised teachers and other staff receive suitable training and support 
    • school practices are clear, follow the rules, well documented, are available to the school community and are clearly explained to students 

What is physical restraint?

Physical restraint is defined as using force to prevent, restrict or subdue the movement of the whole or part of a student's body, against the student's will. It's a serious intervention. Its use is limited to teachers or authorised staff members and only where: 

  • the physical restraint is necessary to prevent imminent harm to the student or another person
  • the teacher or authorised staff member reasonably believe that there is no other option available in the circumstances to prevent the harm
  • the physical restrain is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.


What professional development is available for staff?

The Ministry of Education provides professional development together with ongoing support for school staff around responding to and managing student behaviour to minimise physical restraint.

Boards task the principal with ensuring teachers and other staff who are authorised to physically restrain student receive this specialised training and support. 

Find out what training workshops are available for your school here.


Where can you find legal references for physical restraint?

Check out the links below to find out more.

Scroll down to check out more resources below.


What happens where there is a complaint?

For complaints about a staff member’s use of physical restraint, the school’s concerns and complaints process is followed. If the complaint is escalated to the board, contact the school’s insurer and NZSTA Advisory and Support Centre, option 2 (employment). For more information about responding to complaints, visit Dealing with complaints effectively.

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