3. Risk controls – student challenging behaviours
3.1 Development and selection of risk controls
Because of the wide range of potential scenarios where student behaviour can become violent, aggressive or otherwise pose a safety risk, actions to prevent and respond to these behaviours must be tailored depending on a number of factors including:
- the level of risk of the behaviour to the safety of staff and students
- the context of the behaviour
- the individual needs of the student
- the capability and experience of school staff
- the circumstances of the school (for example, location, size, student population).
For all students, building a positive, safe and inclusive school environment is critical in assisting to prevent and manage the occurrence of behaviours that are violent, aggressive or otherwise pose a safety risk.
Where students present with known challenging behaviours, equipping school staff with the skills to work safely with students, and the capability to support students to be engaged in learning according to their skill and functional level, can help prevent situations where there is a significant risk to safety.
Detailed information about strategies to support student behaviour can be found in the Behaviour – Students topic on PAL.
3.1.1 Behaviour support plans and risk management plans for students
Where student challenging behaviours pose a safety risk that is rated ‘High’ or ‘Extreme’, a functional behaviour assessment is recommended and a behaviour support plan is required. Where there is a significant, ongoing risk to staff safety, a risk management plan for students with challenging behaviours must also be in place.
- A Behaviour Support Plan is required for all students with known challenging behaviours. It is a document designed to assist schools to provide additional support and guidance to identified students. Behaviour Support Plans are function based and include preventative strategies to reduce triggers leading to challenging student behaviours and is reviewed regularly to ensure students and staff are receiving the best support. If a student has particularly challenging behaviour, it may be useful to engage a board-certified behaviour analyst to conduct a formal functional behaviour assessment to inform the student’s Behaviour Support Plan.
- Risk Management Plan – student (staff login required) assists the principal and school staff, with the support of the Employee Wellbeing Response Team, to define the range of actions that have been identified to ensure staff can safely provide teaching and support to a student whose behaviours may pose a risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, students and others at the school. If the student has a Behaviour Support Plan, the Risk Management Plan for student behaviour will support and reference the Behaviour Support Plan, and should be reviewed whenever the Behaviour Support Plan is reviewed or updated.
3.1.2 Protective intervention training
Protective intervention training helps school staff to:
- prevent and manage challenging behaviours while reducing the need for physical interventions
- de-escalate situations involving aggressive or violent behaviour
- ensure the health and safety of students and staff at all times.
Protective intervention training does not provide training in restraint or physical interventions and should not be relied upon to manage challenging student behaviour overall.
The department provides quality assured and centrally funded protective intervention training through Therapeutic Engagement Support (TESSA).
How to access training for your school
There are 2 options for accessing protective intervention training at your school:
- Submit an Expression of Interest to receive funding from the department to cover the costs of training from TESSA:
- For assistance in filling out the form, your school can contact the central OHS Advisory Service at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 074 715.
- Your school will be notified of the outcome of the EOI and will be contacted to confirm a booking.
- Directly procure training from a training provider of your choice:
- Your school does not need to use TESSA to provide protective intervention training. Schools can directly procure training in line with the Procurement – Schools Policy.
- However your school must cover the costs of this training and make sure the training provider used complies with department policies and guidelines, including the Restraint and Seclusion Policy and Guidance.
3.1.3 Further support
For further support, including advice on what individualised plans may be required where a student presents with challenging behaviours, schools should contact:
- Senior Wellbeing and Engagement Officers in your region can provide support around students presenting with challenging behaviours.
- Student Support Services (SSS), which include psychologists, speech pathologists and social workers assist children and young people facing a range of barriers to learning to achieve their educational and developmental potential. When challenging behaviours are ongoing and difficult for school staff to manage, schools are encouraged to lodge a request through the Student Online Case System for support from SSS. SSS also provide support developing, implementing, reviewing and troubleshooting Behaviour Support Plans.
- For support on significant risks to staff safety (including where a Behaviour Support Plan is in place but additional support is required) – the Employee Wellbeing Response Team can be contacted at Employee.Wellbeing.Response.Team@education.vic.gov.au
- The Restraint and Seclusion Policy outlines the legal requirements relating to physical restraint and seclusion, including when restraint and seclusion are permitted and the reporting requirements when this occurs.
Student Support Services and the Employee Wellbeing Response Team work closely together to ensure that behaviour support plans and risk management plans are implemented appropriately and effectively.
3.2 Record current risk controls
Where a school has individualised plans in place for students with challenging behaviours, the principal and/or delegate should record the existence of these plans in the school OHS Risk Register. They do not need to indicate the names or number of students for whom plans are in place.
3.3 Information, instruction and training
The principal and/or their delegate must ensure that in addition to induction and general staff training, staff likely to be affected by student challenging behaviours must be briefed on/trained in the individual plans for students with challenging behaviours. A copy of any plan/s must be readily available to staff.
3.4 Monitor, review and revise controls
The principal and/or their delegate must ensure that in addition to regular reviews of controls, any incident involving a student with challenging behaviours requires a review and, if necessary, revision of the Behaviour Support Plan and any other individual plans in place. If student behaviour continues to pose a significant safety risk, the principal and/or delegate must escalate the case through the SSS Branch Manager and the Employee Wellbeing Response Team.
Reviewed 22 June 2022