The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal has found a teacher guilty of serious misconduct after they physically restrained a student.

The teacher was working part-time in a specialist school for students of higher needs. One day during the lunch break one student was being aggressive towards the teacher. After asking the student to stop multiple times the teacher grabbed the child by the elbow.

The teacher walked the student to the school office with his arm behind his back. During the walk the student started kicking the teacher. The teacher put the student’s second arm behind his back as they walked.

The teacher called for back-up before putting the student in a prone position outside the school office. The teacher was told to get off the student and the student was visibly upset after the incident.

The Complaints Assessment Committee alleged that the teacher’s actions amounted to serious misconduct.

Serious misconduct means conduct that:

  1. Adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, the well-being or learning of one or more students; or
  2. Reflects adversely on the teacher’s fitness to be a teacher; or
  3. May bring the teaching profession into disrepute; and
  4. Meets the Teaching Council’s criteria for serious misconduct.

The Teaching Council Rules outline that physical restraint must not be used on a child or student unless:

  • it is necessary to prevent imminent harm,
  • the teacher reasonably believes there is no alternative in the circumstances,
  • the physical restraint is reasonable and proper in the circumstances.

In this case the teacher may have been justified in initially putting the student’s arm behind his back. However, the Tribunal held that there were other options available to the teacher before putting the student in a prone position.

The teacher was an experienced teacher. He could have used alternatives such as releasing the student and seeking assistance, and/or focusing on removing the student from other students in the area.

The Tribunal accepted that all requirements of serious misconduct were made out and the student was adversely affected by the incident. The teacher’s actions reflected adversely on the teaching profession and the charge of serious misconduct was made out.

The teacher was censured and is required to provide a copy of the Tribunal’s report to any future employer in the next two years.

It is vital to be aware of your obligations as a teacher. If you are confused about your obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.  

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.