Minimising the use of physical restraint in New Zealand schools and kura

New rules [PDF, 412 KB] and guidelines [PDF, 13 MB] on understanding ākonga distress and minimising the use of physical restraint in schools came into force on 7 February 2023 - these supersede the 2017 rules and guidelines.

You can access a printable booklet version of the guidelines here. [PDF, 10 MB]

The new guidelines were created in response to changes in the Education and Training Act 2020 ( link) and calls from schools for more clarity about when it is acceptable to use physical restraint and what is acceptable physical contact.

The rules and guidelines are the result of a collective effort from ākonga, parents, caregivers, whānau, the disability and school sectors, peak bodies and experts. 

Read our commissioned research(external link) into what helps tamariki feel safe and included at school, and what supports tamariki when they’re upset and distressed.

Read the full findings(external link) of our online consultation, a Te Reo Māori version(external link) and a summary(external link).

The Ministry is working to support schools and school staff to understand and put in place the new rules and guidelines, aimed at minimising the use of physical restraint in schools and eliminating the use of unjustified restraint.

Understandably, there are strong and wide-ranging views on the use of physical restraint in schools. However, there may be situations where physical restraint is the only option, such as when there is a significant risk of someone being hurt. Physical restraint must only be used by kaiako or authorised staff members when the conditions outlined in the legislation have been met, and only as a last resort. 

Key information for schools 

New online learning module 

A new mandatory online module called Physical Restraint - Understanding the Rules and Guidelines(external link)was launched on 7 February 2023. It is a really useful guide to the legislation, rules and guidelines, and includes approaches that focus on safety and wellbeing. All teachers and authorised staff need to complete the module by 7 February 2024. New staff will also need to complete the training as part of their induction.

This is the first of a series of online learning modules being delivered in 2023 and 2024. The subsequent modules will build on the content in the updated rules and guidelines and their practical application in the classroom and school as referenced in Rule 12(b). 

These online modules will be supplemented with webinars and resources.

Training and support

All existing training and support will continue to be available to schools. This includes targeted and tailored supports from your local Ministry of Education team, and training in safe physical holds (for teams around learners who have physical restraint as part of their existing safety and support plans). 

New online reporting form

Timely and accurate incident reporting is an important component of the rules and guidelines, which is why we developed a new online reporting form for more simple and effective reporting. We have now updated the online form to reflect the new legislation.

The online form can be accessed from the main Community Portal(external link) or by using this link(external link) (NB: Chrome and Edge are the supported browsers for the online form). To access the online form, your school's delegated authoriser can assign the ESL (Education Sector Logon) role 'physical restraint school user'. We have updated the online reporting training module(external link) (select Education Learning Management System, login with ESL, see new releases or search for physical restraint online form module in catalogue) to reflect the changes.

What’s coming up 



Hard copies of rules and guidelines delivered to schools 

March 2023 

Further Information

If you have any questions, please email us.

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