Monday, 4 April 2011

New guidance for School Governors on behaviour and discipline in schools

New guidance from Department of Education today clarifies powers of teachers to search students and use force.

More than 600 pages of guidance has been cut down to 50

Top headteacher Charlie Taylor from Willows School given new role in Department for Education to improve discipline in Schools.

The Government’s new guidance is 50 pages long. It sets out the roles and responsibilities for governing bodies, headteachers and teachers regarding behaviour and discipline.

The new guidance clarifies teachers’ powers. It makes clear the following:

Schools should not have a ‘no touch’ policy. It is often necessary or desirable for a teacher to touch a child (e.g. dealing with accidents or teaching musical instruments).

Teachers have a legal power to use reasonable force. They can use force to remove a pupil who is disrupting a lesson or to prevent a child leaving a classroom.

Heads can search for an extended list of items including alcohol, illegal drugs and stolen property.

Heads have the power to discipline pupils who misbehave outside the schools premises and outside schools hours.

The guidance also protects teachers from malicious allegations and strengthens their authority in the classroom. It makes clear:

Heads can temporarily or permanently exclude pupils who make false allegations. In extreme circumstances they may even press criminal charges against the pupil.

The default position should be to assume the teacher has behaved reasonably unless a complainant can show that a teacher has behaved unreasonably.

Schools should not automatically suspend teachers accused of using force unreasonably.

All but the tiny number of the most complex cases should be resolved within three months and the vast majority should be resolved in four weeks.

Malicious allegations should not be included in employment records.

The new Education Bill going through the Commons now will also:

Extend powers to search pupils for any items that are banned by school rules such as mobile phones.

Stop appeals panels sending excluded children back to the school from which they were excluded.

Give teachers anonymity when facing allegations.

Remove the requirement on schools to give parents 24 hours notice of detention.


1. This is statutory guidance from the Department for Education. It explains why maintained schools must have a behaviour policy, what it must cover and the role of the governing body and head teachers in shaping their school’s behaviour policy.

2. We use the term ‘must’ when the person in question is legally required to do something and ‘should’ when advice is being offered.

3. This guidance replaces chapter 2 of ‘School discipline and pupil behaviour policies – guidance for schools’.


Education and Inspections Act 2006

Key Points

• Every school must have a behaviour policy (which must include the school rules).


1. Under Section 88(1) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA), governing bodies must ensure that policies designed to promote good behaviour and discipline on the part of its pupils are pursued at the school.

2. Section 88(2) of the EIA requires the governing body to:

a. make, and from time to time review, a written statement of general principles to guide the head teacher in determining measures to promote good behaviour and discipline amongst pupils; and

b. notify the head teacher and give him or her related guidance if the governing body wants the school’s behaviour policy to include particular measures or address particular issues.

3. When carrying out the functions under Section 88(2), the governing body must have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State. Paragraphs 12-14 below provide this statutory guidance.

4. Before making their statement of principles, the governing body must consult (in whatever manner they think appropriate) the head teacher, school staff, parents and pupils.

5. The Governors’ Guide to the law provides information on governors’ other legal duties.
See the Associated Resources section below for a link to the Guide.

What must the governing body do?

6. The governing body must provide clear advice and guidance to the head teacher on which he/she can base the school behaviour policy.

7. This is particularly important in respect of teachers’ powers to search, to use reasonable force and to discipline pupils for misbehaviour outside school. Although these powers may look straightforward in legal terms, they are not always fully understood by staff, pupils and parents, and staff can feel particularly vulnerable to challenge if they use them.

8. Clear advice and guidance from the governing body, which feeds directly into the behaviour policy, will help members of staff better understand the extent of their powers and how to use them. It will also help ensure that staff can be confident of the governing body’s support if they follow that guidance.

9. While it is for each governing body to decide their own principles, we would always expect the governing body to notify the head teacher that the following should be covered in the school behaviour policy:

a. Screening and searching pupils;

b. The power to use reasonable force;

c. The power to discipline beyond the school gate; and

d. Pastoral care for school staff accused of misconduct.

10. In providing guidance to the head teacher, the governing body must not seek to hinder teachers’ powers by including ‘no searching’ or ‘no contact’ policies, nor to restrict their power to discipline pupils for misbehaviour outside of school. Governing bodies will also wish to consider their duty under section 175 of the Education Act 2002 requiring them to make arrangements to ensure that their functions are carried out with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

Screening and searching and the power to use reasonable force

11. Separate guidance is available on searching and on the use of force and governing bodies should draw on this to inform their guidance to the head teacher.
The power to discipline beyond the school gate

12. Disciplining beyond the school gate covers the school’s response to all non-criminal bad behaviour and bullying which occurs anywhere off the school premises and which is witnessed by a member of staff or reported to the school. The governing body must be satisfied that the measures proposed by the head teacher are lawful.

13. The governing body will need to ask the head teacher to consider what the school’s response should be to:

Any bad behaviour when the child is:

• taking part in any school-organised or school-related activity or
• travelling to or from school or
• wearing school uniform or
• in some other way identifiable as a pupil at the school.

Or, misbehaviour at any time, whether or not the conditions above apply, that:

• could have repercussions for the orderly running of the school or
• poses a threat to another pupil or member of the public or
• could adversely affect the reputation of the school.

14. In all of these circumstances the head teacher should also consider whether it is appropriate to notify the police or anti-social behaviour coordinator in their local authority of the actions taken against a pupil. If the behaviour is criminal or poses a serious threat to a member of the public, the police should always be informed. In addition, school staff should consider whether the misbehaviour may be linked to the child suffering, or being likely to suffer, significant harm. In this case the school staff should follow its safeguarding policy.

Pastoral care for school staff

15. Employers should not automatically suspend a member of staff who has been accused of misconduct, pending an investigation. The governing body should instruct the head teacher to draw on the advice in the ‘Dealing with Allegations of Abuse against Teachers and Other Staff’ guidance when setting out the pastoral support school staff can expect to receive if they are accused of misusing their powers.


Screening Searching and Confiscation - Guidance for School Leaders, Staff, and Governing Bodies

Dealing with Allegations of Abuse against Teachers and other Staff

Use of Reasonable Force - Guidance for School Leaders Staff and Governing Bodies

Behaviour and Discipline in Schools - Guidance for Governing Bodies

Online Consultation Finishes 20th May 2011

Unions Views:

NASUWT: Coalition Government's announcement on pupil behaviour$21388203$1345015.htm?

NUT New Guidance on Discipline - press release

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