Calming and defusing - tips for teachers to manage challenging behaviour

Over 900 pupils are excluded from school every day for abuse and assault, meaning teachers and other school staff are regularly challenged by pupil behaviour. Government guidance makes it clear that teachers and head teachers can use reasonable force, but knowing when and how to use force safely and effectively is a tough call for teachers to make in the heat of the moment.

A focus on calming and defusing to reduce and, if possible, negate the use of physical contact is the favoured outcome when teachers have to step in to manage behaviour that challenges. Training supports teachers to spot trigger points early, builds greater confidence in approaching and managing pupils and adopting simple strategies to effectively de-escalate situations.

Emphasising what may seem like obvious, common sense actions can help to establish a confident strategy for handling a potential incident of difficult behaviour:

  • Stay calm
  • Make sure the pupil has an escape route
  • Allow for personal space
  • Think about your tone of voice - try not to raise it
  • Empathise and listen to what is being said
  • Don't talk over
  • Try not to embarrass a pupil or make them lose face in front of others
  • Don’t make it personal - concentrate on the offence not the offender
  • Make it easy for them to do what you need them to do
  • Be aware of the school’s behaviour policy

In conjunction with school policies and procedures, training all staff in conflict prevention and resolution helps to create a consistent and more robust approach to challenging behaviour where teachers and pupils feel supported.

Where it is reasonably foreseeable that staff may have to use force, they should be appropriately trained. 



Posted by Maybo on October 15, 2015


May 10, 2012

We were discussing some of these isseus at our Regional Families Forum in the East of England last week. Our families and people often use and need care agencies to support assessment, recruitment, training, coordination, monitoring and supervision, payroll and dispute resolution etc. However, they are concerned that often the service falls short and pay, training and service are minimual while cost is maximinised. It would be easy to transfer Winterbourne and Southern Cross from residentail to industrialised community care. It has always been argued that care in the community equals a social model of care without a huge cultural change we will just transfer the old model to the new setting. With poor staff moral, low wages, poor training and development. The integrity of the business model used will also be of relevance.A couple of other areas also promted discussion the inclusion of a lifelong commitment to a meaningful life and human right for personal development ie care beyond having a clean bottom and nose wipe. The other area of concern was the training and supervision around health needs in the community. Again discussion around models of care have often been confused with medical and social are models being used to incorrectly as a means to determine a cost centre rather than an approach to care. The result has been too little supervsion, training and support for complex medical conditions and too much reliance on minimum waged poorly educated and trained community care support. Some of which is well meant.

By Ginda