End of 'no touch' rule over-spun
03 Oct 2010
On the eve of the Tory conference, there has been much coverage of the government's plan to end the 'no touch' rule that is supposed to prevent teachers from touching their pupils either to comfort them or to restrain them.
This is slightly odd as there is no law or government regulation that prevents teachers from touching pupils. If any schools do have a 'no touch' policy this is not based on any legal requirement for them to do so.
On restraint, there is a specific legal right (under the Education & Inspections Act, 2006) which permits teachers to use physical force to stop a pupil from:
- committing any offence;
- causing personal injury to themselves or any other person;
- damaging property
- or to stop anything that is prejudicing good order and discipline in the school.
These powers apply at school or anywhere else where the teachers has 'lawful control or charge of the pupil '.
The same Act gave teachers a clear legal right to discipline pupils, either in school or outside where pupils are in their charge.
Where the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, may have a point is that there does still seem to be some general confusion about this -- but this is a confusion which has often arisen because parts of the media and some politicians encourage the saloon-bar view that teachers cannot ever touch a pupil.
Where he may have a point is on the need to simplify advice for teachers.
For more on the use of discipline in schools see my recent Teachers TV programme on the subject: www.teachers.tv/videos/need-to-know-new-powers-to-discipline