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Appendix E
BRIEFING NOTE: Physical Restraint in Education 
4 May 2018 
Approved by: 
Graham Stoop 
027 689 9039 
Following  public  interest  in  cases  where  teachers  have  been  disciplined  for  using
force  unreasonably  or  without  justification,  you  asked  the  Education  Council  of
Aotearoa New Zealand (the Education Council) to facilitate discussions on the use
of physical restraint in education.
This paper provides you with an update on those discussions.
In 2017 there were changes to the Education Act 1989 (the Education Act), with
accompanying guidelines, making it explicit that teachers can use physical restraint
when someone’s safety is at “se ious and imminent risk” (section 139AC (1)(a) of the
Education Act).
Since then we have heard from teachers and parents about how strongly they feel
about the appropriate use of physical contact in education settings especially when
situations involve health-related behavioural issues.
Discussing physical restraint 
It  is  clear  from  discussions  with  teachers,  parents,  and  others  involved  with
under the Official Information Act 1982
supporting children and young people in education, that the use of restraint is not an
issue that can be considered in isolation.
There are three key stages that have been identified:
(1) Preventing  the  need  to  use  physical  restraint  which  includes  understanding
(2) Knowing  when  and  how  to  use  physical  restraint  appropriately  when  it  is
Released necessary
(3) After restraint is used, making sure children and teachers are supported and that
lessons learned can affect change.

The  reasons  why  teachers  sometimes  need  to  consider  using  restraint  are
fundamental to any discussion on resolving concerns about its use. We consistently
heard  that  the  use  of  physical  restraint  on  learners,  even  for  the  purposes  of
preventing harm, is not a desirable option for anyone.
Both teachers and parents say schools need to work more closely with  whānau to
understand  the  needs  of  each  learner  so  that  appropriate  responses  to  manage
behaviour are in place when needed. More emphasis and investment is needed to 1982
support teachers to avoid the use of restraint and to better understand their learners.
Knowing when and how to restrain appropriately 
The current guidelines have widespread support from parent and teacher groups we
spoke  with.  However,  teachers  have  asked  for  clarification  in  the  guidelines  to
support decision making and action when physical restraint is required.
10. Consistent  with  the  Education  Council’s  submission  opposing  the  proposal  in  the
Supplementary Order Paper that resulted in s 139AC,1 those proposing the repeal of
that  section  say  it  is  necessary  because  it  conflicts  with  defences  available  under
other legislation including the Crimes Act 1961. This has created confusion and angst
in the profession, leading to teachers walking away from situations because they are
not confident to use restraint because they fear punitive action.
11. For example, even where there is a clear serious and imminent danger of harm, such
as a child running onto a busy road, some teachers said they would be worried about
restraining  the  child.  There  has  also  been  concern  expressed  about  whether  a
teacher would be acting lawfully to prevent harm, such as by stepping in to prevent
a fight between students.
12. The point made is that at the moment in time when a child or young person may be
putting themselves or others at risk in some way, teachers need clarity around what
they can do.
After physical restraint is used 
13. Although concern has been expressed about the arduous reporting requirements if
restraint  is  used,  it  is  acknowledged  that  data  can  be  used  to  identify  and  target
support. We have heard that this will only be effective if the right data is collected
and interpreted in the right way.
14. Continuous improvement should also be part of the training and support package to
support schools, learner and communities.
Key themes 
15.  Key  themes  from  the  discussions  on  restraint  are  attached  at  appendix  B.  The
discussions facilitated by the Education Council were:
1 The relevant part of the Education Council’s submission dated 30 January 2018 is appended to this 

20. For change to be impactful, we have heard that the guidelines need to be aligned
with other relevant legislation and provide specific guidance on what teachers can
do, with an increased investment in training and support.
21. Underpinning this must be a strong partnership and agreement between teachers,
other experts, whānau and communities.
Next steps 
22. As the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) is the agency responsible for the Education
Act and accompanying guidelines, and for providing much of the support currently
available to schools, we suggest the next step is to discuss matters with the Ministry.

Appendix A 
Extract from Education Council Submission on the Supplementary Order Paper 
250 regarding seclusion and restraint – Education (Update) Amendment Bill 30 
January 2017  

Physical Restraint 
Limits on the use of physical restraint (section 139AC)
We do not agree there should be additional provisions placed in primary legislation 
to set out the circumstances where teachers or other educational staff members 
can justifiably use physical restraint on a student. We consider the existing legal 
and regulatory provisions are sufficient to protect the rights, health and safety of 
students and others, and provide adequate protection for teachers to use physical 
restraint in specified circumstances. Instead, we consider best practice guidelines to 
be a much more appropriate lever to achieve consistent best practice.
We have serious concerns that proposed definition of physical restraint2 is too 
broad and the threshold for using physical restraint is too high. We consider that 
this proposed amendment may lead to a raft of unintended consequences through 
misinterpretation or misunderstanding, whereby teachers fear that cannot have any 
physical contact with children and young people in the course of their valid 
professional role. Likewise, it may result in a wave of complaints against teachers 
who may have used physical contact in reasonable circumstances, but where 
the high threshold of the safety of someone being at serious or imminent risk is not 
met. A spike of unwarranted complaints would undermine confidence in the 
“We have serious concerns 
under  profession. 
that proposed definition of 
physical restraint is too broad 
There are numerous situations where it may be entirely appropriate for a teacher to 
and the threshold for using 
use “physical force to prevent, restrict or subdue the movement of a student’s 
physical restraint is too high.”
body or part of their body” and where the safety of someone is not at serious and 
imminent risk
. Examples include:
2 “Physically restrain, in relation to a student, means to use physical force to prevent, restrict, or subdue the movement of the 
student’s body or part of the students body”

• Physically escorting using physical contact to gently assist or prompt a child or
student in performing a task or move them from one area to another
• Gently holding the hand of a young student to provide comfort
• Picking up or holding a child or young student to comfort them
• Holding a child or student with disabilities to move them to another area or help
them get into a vehicle
• Guiding or ushering a child or young student who is engaged in disrupt ve
behaviour (such as throwing water or paint) away to another area
• Briefly holding (without undue force) a very young child or a child or student
with cognitive or developmental disorders in order to calm them
• Using calming techniques which involve physical contact such as “deep touch
pressure techniques” for students with autistic spectrum disorders
• Physically moving students from one another to break up a minor altercation
where they are not responding to verbal instructions to desist from fighting,
but where the safety of the students or others is not deemed to be at “serious
or imminent risk” (e.g. where they are pulling each other’s hair or are pushing at
each other in a non-harmful way)
• Lifting a young child or student into a car restraint or placing them in a
wheelchair, push chair or high-chair
• Holding or supporting a young child or student with disabilities in order to
perform or assist them with personal care tasks, such as toileting, changing
diapers or bathing.
“We have particular concerns 
We have particular concerns that the proposed wording of the legislation does 
not take into account best practice for working with children and students with 
that the proposed wording 
disabilities, where holding or using physical contact (which may involve “restricting 
of the legislation does not 
or subduing the movement of a student’s body or part of their body”) is often 
take into account best 
necessary and appropriate. Indeed, the recent Ministry of Education publication 
practice for working with 
Guidance for New Zealand Schools on Behaviour Management to Minimise Physical 
children and students with 
Restraint (p.3) refers to examples which they state are not physical restraint, but 
disabilities, where holding or 
which could arguably still meet the definition in the proposed Bill. 
using physical contact (which 
may involve “restricting or 
This adds further weight to our recommendation that policy on the use of physical 
subduing the movement of a 
restraint is best addressed in best practice guidelines where the complexity of the 
issues, and the range of circumstances where physical restraint can be reasonably 
student’s body or part of their 
used, can be more fully explained. 
body”) is often necessary and 
under the Official Information Act 1982
Existing provisions against inappropriate or excessive use of force
We consider the current legal and regulatory provisions, definitions and 
interpretations which prohibit the use of inappropriate or excessive force are 
sufficient to protect the rights of children and young people and are already well 
understood. Again, we disagree there needs to be new legislation specific to the 
education sector. Current provisions against the excessive use of force already 
exist, and include:
Crimes Act 1961. Section 62: Excess use of force: Everyone authorised by law 
to use force is criminally responsible for any excess, according to the nature 
and quality of the act that constitutes the excess.

Crimes Act 1961. Section 194: Assault on a child: Everyone is liable to 
imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years who (a) assaults3 any child 
under the age of 14 years; or (b) being a male, assaults any female.
Crimes Act 1961. Section 196. Common assault: Everyone is liable to 
imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 years who assaults any other person
The Education Act 1989, Section 139A: This essentially banned the 
corporal punishment and prohibits the use of force “by way of correction or 
punishment towards any student or child”. 
Rule 9 of the Education Council Rules 2016: These rules set out the criteria for 
reporting serious misconduct of teachers. This includes (a) the physical abuse 
of a child or young person, (c) the psychological abuse of a child or young 
person, (f) ill treatment of any child or young person in the teacher’s care. 
“There are already legal and 
There are already legal and professional consequences if a student is harmed 
professional consequences if a 
or physical force is used inapprop iately. They could be charged with assault 
under the Crimes Act and the incident could be investigated by the New Zealand 
student is harmed or physical 
Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal which has the powers to cancel, or suspend 
force is used inappropriately.”
a teacher’s registration and practicing certificate, impose fines and impose 
There are likely to also be employment consequences for a person who is found to 
have acted inappropr ately or illegally.
Existing legal provisions which set out the justifiable use of force
We consider the existing legal provisions which set out the circumstances 
where people can use physical force protect them or other people from harm are 
sufficient, and that specific legislation for the education sector in this regard is 
Provisions in The Crimes Act 1961 which allow justifiable force to be used are set 
out in sections 414, 425, 436, and 487.
Furthermore, the proposed amendments would actually establish a higher legal 
threshold for teachers and authorised persons for the circumstances when they 
can use physical force than exists for the general public as set out in sections 
under the Official Information Act 1982
42, 43 and 48 or the Crimes Act. We see this as unhelpful and unnecessary. It 
also actually does the opposite of what this legislation was intending in part to 
address, that is, to remove the risk of legal liability for school personnel who use 
physical restraint.
3  The Crimes Act, Section 2(1) interpretation: “assault” means the act of intentionally applying or attempting to apply force to the 
person of another, directly or indirectly, or threatening by any act or gesture to apply such force to the person of another, if the 
person making the threat has, or causes the other to believe on reasonable grounds that he or she has, present ability to effect 
his or her purpose; and “to assault” has a corresponding meaning.
4  Section 41: For the prevention of suicide
5  Section 42: “Preventing breach of the peace: Everyone who witnesses a breach of the peace is justified in interfering to 
prevent its continuance or renewal, and may detain any persona committing it in order to give him or her into the custody 
of a constable…provided that the person interfering shall use no more force than is reasonably necessary for preventing the 
continuance or renewal of the breach of peace, or than is reasonably proportionate to the danger to be apprehended from its 
continuance or renewal.”
6  Section 43: “Suppression of riot: Everyone is justified in using such force as is necessary to suppress a riot, if the force used is not 
disproportionate to the danger to be apprehended form the continuance of the riot”. 
7  Section 48: Self-defence and defence of another: Everyone is justified in using, in the defence of himself or herself or another, 
such force as, in the circumstances as he or she believes them to be, it is reasonable to use.

Private schools are excluded from this proposed provision
Notwithstanding our strong recommendation that the proposed amendments 
do not include physical restraint, if the decision is made to include it, it should 
apply in all early childhood education centres and schools, including private and 
partnership schools. As currently drafted, private schools are excluded. 
We understand this is consistent with Section 139AAA Surrender and Retention 
“As the professional body 
of Property, but we see no valid reason why private schools should be exempt. 
As the professional body for teachers, we consider it important that all teachers 
for teachers, we consider it 
are held to the same high standard of conduct, whether they are employed at a 
important that all teachers 
state school, partnership school or an independent (private) school. Likewise it is 
are held to the same high 
important that our legislation entitles all New Zealand children and young people 
standard of conduct, whether 
to be safe and receive a high quality education, including the right to be free from 
they are employed by at a state 
assault or from arbitrary detention. 
school, partnership school 
or an independent (private) 
Guidelines on Physical Restraint (proposed Section 139AE)
We support this proposed section which places into legislation the requirement for 
the Secretary of Education to issue guidance on the use of physical restraint and 
that boards, principals and teachers must have regard to the guidelines.
“We consider guidelines to be 
We consider guidelines to be a much more appropriate tool to set out the 
expectations and to achieve consistent practice on this complex matter, than 
a much more appropriate tool 
primary legislation. 
to set out the expectations and 
to achieve consistent practice 
We note that, as currently drafted, private schools are excluded from this clause. 
on this complex matter, than 
As stated previously, we have major concerns about this exclusion and strongly 
primary legislation.”
recommend s139AE is amended to include private schools. We know of no good 
reason why private schools should be exempt from applying best practice on this 
We welcome the recent guidance issued by the Ministry of Education Guidance for 
New Zealand Schools on Behaviour Management to Minimise Physical Restraint
. We 
are also pleased to see that the Ministry of Education is supporting this guideline 
with the professional development workshops to teachers on responding to 
challenging behaviour. We do have some suggestions on ways to strengthen 
the guideline, in order to remove any ambiguity about the circumstances where 
physical restraint can be used. We will be raising this with the Ministry of 
Education separately from this submission. 
under  Early childhood education sector
We note that the proposals on physical restraint are for the schooling sector only 
and exclude the early childhood education sector. The Ministry of Education’s 
regulatory impact statement on this proposal suggests making consequential 
amendments for similar provisions for early childhood education services and 
ngā kōhanga reo through the Education (Early Childhood) Regulations 2008 and 
the Education (Playgroups) Regulations 2008. We welcome any opportunity to be 
involved in these discussions and the drafting of any regulation and guidance for 
this sector.

because they set out the expectations of behaviours and 
practice in teaching. 
3.  Reporting  
Agencies need to be careful when establishing reporting 
requirements. Teachers and staff say the reporting forms and 
process make reporting onerous.   
Reporting only has value if there is follow-up to resolve the 
issues the reporting exposes. There needs to be a clear 
strategy (what is being done with the data and why) and the 
value of it needs to be explicit to everyone. 
We need to improve the understanding of what the data 
means rather than making assumptions about it. Some of the 
reporting has led to people questioning the practice of some 
teachers rather than looking at what is behind the need to 
restrain (for example, high restraint numbers among younger 
children is actually expected because of behaviours and 
required care of younger children rather than necessarily poor 
teacher performance). 
Parents and communities need to be able to trust that 
information held about their child is safe and is treated 
Some parents have said reporting is a huge asset and that 
some schools are concerned because it will highlight that 
children with special needs are being restrained the most and 
therefo e schools are not appropriately responding to health-
related behavioural needs. Reporting, done right, has its place 
in understanding issues and targeting resource, and in being 
transparent. But the right data must be collected, the process 
not arduous, and the data interpreted appropriately.  
4.  Training and 
Training and support is critical for successful implementation 
and outcomes. The current resources are inadequate and 
investment is needed. Current training is variable and often 
does not add value. Not everyone or every scenario is the 
under the Official Information Act 1982
same and so the training needs to be tailored – currently 
resources are being wasted. One size does not fit all 
particularly as some schools need more detail and structure 
than others because of background of children and young 
people they enrol.  
Best practice sharing is essential – resources and scenarios 
are needed to model this practice. Good training and support 
can help minimise reporting requirements because teachers 
and staff are better equipped to manage behaviours. 
Good training is about care, not compliance. It tells the story 
simply to remove confusion and is collaborative with a student 
and parent voice. It is not about blame but it needs a robust 
framework to operate from whether its legal or guidance, and 

it should be about practice and treatment rather than about 
policy and procedure. 
We need to be clear about who is responsible for professional 
development and consider if it should be mandatory in this 
area. Some parents have suggested a national programme 
should be rolled out. 
Beginning teachers need to be better prepared. 
5.  Engagement 
Some parents have said that schools are not being honest 
about the use of restraint and this is what is making it hard for 
parents to engage. Instead they are having to fight the system 
rather than working together. 
Schools agree it is important to work together – teachers, 
school, child, parent, community, education and health 
professionals. A child does not come into education alone. 
There is a collective responsibility by everyone to be open and 
honest and have a plan to understand and best support each 
child and young person. It is also important there is a 
seamless transition of the child and knowledge between each 
sector – from early childhood into primary into secondary 
Child-centred decisions need everyone involved. 
Schools need strong engagement within their own school 
environmen  to talk about what they already do, what works 
and what needs to change. 
The system is massively devolved and principals and boards 
are on their own. 
6.  Societal issues 
There are broader societal issues impacting on teachers doing 
their job. Are teachers also social workers and police officers?  
There are more extreme behaviours being exhibited by 
under the Official Information Act 1982
children and young people, and society’s expectations are that 
every school will fix every problem as well as teach students. 
It is incredibly complex. Teachers are asking how much 
training they are expected to undertake to stay on top of these 
problems which often sit outside of their skill set and role.