Promoting positive behaviour in schools

The Department of Education is currently undertaking a review of the use of restraint and seclusion in educational settings and has published interim guidance.

Good Behaviour at School' leaflet for parents

Parents have the biggest single influence on their children’s lives and are their children’s prime educators. Parental encouragement is crucial if children are to do well in school and research clearly shows that children whose parents are involved in their education at all stages do better at school and later in life.

This leaflet gives some ways for schools, parents and pupils to help each other.  The information is available in large print and alternative languages.

Guidance literature for schools

This circular advises of legislation requiring the implementation of discipline policies in schools and provides additional support to schools in the matter of suspensions and expulsions.

This document provides guidance for staff to develop and review their policies and procedures surrounding the way pupils behave in schools. It reflects strategies and examples of good practice to help promote and maintain positive behaviour in schools.

Reasonable force

All schools have a pastoral responsibility towards their pupils and should take all reasonable steps to ensure that the welfare of pupils is safeguarded and that their safety is preserved.

The need to use reasonable force to restrain or control a pupil should be rare. However, if a pupil’s behaviour threatens the safety of other pupils and staff, a member of staff may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to prevent the pupil from

  • committing an offence
  • causing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including the pupil him/herself)
  • engaging in any behaviour prejudicial to the maintenance of good order and discipline at the school or among any of its pupils, whether during a teaching session or otherwise

Article 4 of the Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 clarifies when it may be appropriate for a member of staff to use reasonable force.

This circular provides clarification and guidance on the use of reasonable force, by teachers and other authorised staff to restrain or control pupils in certain circumstances. It gives guidance about who can use reasonable force, when it is appropriate to use it, and the procedures for recording incidents where reasonable force was used. The circular also advises that schools should have a written policy about the use of reasonable force which should be made known to parents.

Model policy

The purpose of every school should be to create a safe and secure environment where all children are enabled to achieve their full potential and to be educated with respect and dignity. The model policy should be incorporated into a schools mission statement and enable staff to develop in the area of reasonable force.

The guidance in this framework  been developed in line with guidance from 'Towards a Model Policy in Schools on the Use of Reasonable Force'.

Suspensions and expulsions

Every school must have a written discipline/behaviour policy which outlines the behaviour which it expects from registered pupils and the sanctions which it will impose for breaches in discipline.  

Sanctions are an integral part of a school’s policy in order to uphold the school’s rules and procedures.  Sanctions will vary from removal of privileges and completion of additional work to, in extreme cases, a suspension or expulsion (following a suspension).

More information on the procedures around the use of suspensions and expulsions can be found at the link below;


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