Positive Behaviour Support Policy 2021

Staff at Giant Steps promote positive behaviour and are aware that positive behaviour begins with delivering engaging, well-structured lessons and learning experiences.


Forming part of: Giant Steps Tasmania’s Health and Safety Manual

Policy Statement

Staff at Giant Steps promote positive behaviour and are aware that positive behaviour begins with delivering engaging, well-structured lessons and learning experiences. Furthermore, staff aim to ensure that all students have an understanding of what is and is not acceptable behaviour, both through the explicit teaching of safe, respectful and acceptable behaviours and through continual modelling of the same.

While it may be possible to understand violent and aggressive behaviours sometimes experienced from students at Giant Steps either as originating from their primary diagnosis, or as a result of a co-morbidity, these behaviours are neither condoned nor considered acceptable. The school works across all areas to ensure that students, staff and visitors to Giant Steps experience a safe and positive environment and that students learn and adopt strategies to ensure their own and others’ safety and well-being.

Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff understand that all behaviour is a means of communication. Furthermore they understand that the majority of incidents of negative or challenging behaviour seen among students of Giant Steps Tasmania are triggered by known sources (behaviour of others, particular locations, times of stress and uncertainty or challenge etc.) Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff understand the value of proactive rather than reactive strategies when supporting students. However, because some Giant Steps students have complex communication and learning needs, staff might not always be able to quickly recognise triggers or understand what a particular behaviour is trying to communicate. Accurate and timely record keeping and analysis of data as well as positive and open dialogue with parents/ carers are therefore of paramount importance in helping all staff support students’ behaviour needs.

Avoiding the need to use restrictive physical intervention except in situations of extreme danger, is a vital part of Giant Steps’ Positive Behaviour Support Policy. To ensure this happens, staff have a responsibility to be aware of the Behaviour Support Plans (BSPs) around specific students. Staff also have a responsibility to read and follow Student Support Summaries to ensure that they are aware of triggers and de-escalation strategies appropriate for use with each individual student. In addition, staff are offered regular PART Training to ensure they know how to keep their students and themselves safe if they experience challenging behaviour.

If it is necessary to use any restrictive physical intervention, the intervention has to be reasonable, proportionate and absolutely necessary to avoid extreme danger to the student or to another individual.

Any restrictive physical intervention can only be carried out by a member of staff trained in the use of safe restrictive practices.

The use of all types of Behaviour Interventions, including restrictive physical interventions at Giant Steps Tasmania is consistent with international Human Rights legislation and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990)

The use of all types of Behaviour Interventions, including restrictive physical interventions at Giant Steps Tasmania is consistent with international Human Rights legislation and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990). Giant Steps Tasmania believes that everyone is entitled to:

  • the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment
  • the right to liberty and security
  • the right not to be discriminated against in his/her enjoyment of those rights.

Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff dealing with a negative or challenging behaviour of a student always react in a way consistent with their duty of care.

In cases where a third party (student, staff member or visitor) has been impacted by a student’s challenging behaviour, support is offered to the third party. This support may include counselling, involvement in a restorative process or another process agreed upon by the third party and Principal.


This policy has four important aims:

  • To prioritise the importance of pre-emptive strategies to promote positive, respectful behaviour.
  • If negative behaviour occurs, to provide staff with suggestions as to how to de-escalate it (while pointing out that these generic strategies are no substitute for a thorough knowledge of students’ needs and Behaviour Support Plans (BSPs).
  • To make clear the differences between contingent touch, reflexive touch, evasive touch and restrictive physical intervention.
  • To contribute to ensuring that Giant Steps Tasmania is a safe environment for students, staff and visitors.


Positive Behaviour

All staff at Giant Steps Tasmania adopt a Positive Behaviour Management (PBM) approach to Behaviour Support, that emphasises prevention, support for students, avoiding confrontation with students and focusing on the development of values, relationships and skill building.

PBM at Giant Steps Tasmania is evidenced by:

  • The delivery of appropriately challenging and engaging learning opportunities
  • Explicit teaching and practice of expected behaviours
  • Positive reinforcement for appropriate behaviour
  • Opportunities for students to air concerns and be listened to
  • Planned responses to inappropriate behaviour that may include additional teaching and support, parent/ carer involvement and the involvement of external support agencies.

Teachers, aides and Allied Health Professionals practice PBM by:

  • Focussing on the positive in their interactions with students
  • Using positive language about students
  • Having a positive and supportive learning environment
  • Preparing students for situations that might make them anxious (e.g. transitions, staff changes)
  • Devising (or utilising existing) units of work, visuals and social stories that explicitly teach desired behaviours
  • Understanding that education and support is more effective than punishment
  • Establishing positive and supportive teacher-student relationships (while maintaining boundaries)
  • Providing students with skills and strategies to replace challenging or undesirable behaviours with acceptable behaviours
  • Catching students being good

At Giant Steps Tasmania, students are explicitly taught respectful behaviour. Students are encouraged to support each other by listening and valuing each other’s opinions. Circle Time and Group are used to encourage equality and acceptance, allowing all students the opportunity to be heard.

Growth Mindset is an integral part of all learning at Giant Steps (for staff as well as students). Staff at Giant Steps emphasise the importance of effort over ability; understand that learning something new can be hard but, as our brains make new connections, what was once difficult becomes easier, and value process over product.

Staff model making mistakes. They show students that they are not omnipotent and that they make mistakes too, especially when learning something new.

Staff understand the importance of allowing processing time. Students are given time to think and discuss their ideas in pairs or with an adult before they share with a wider audience. Staff understand that this helps to reduce students’ anxiety.

Staff celebrate the process rather than the end result and reward students for having a go and showing improvement, rather than just for getting things right first time.

Staff celebrate the process rather than the end result and reward students for having a go and showing improvement, rather than just for getting things right first time.

Staff provide scaffolding for student learning.

Staff give students the opportunity to redo tests and actively encourage them to review and refine their work. Staff understand that giving students only one opportunity to get something right, limits their potential and increases anxiety.

Challenging behaviour

Staff at Giant Steps Tasmania acknowledge that there is no ‘quick fix’ for challenging behaviour and recognise that, as with all learning, what are needed are long term solutions that take the needs of the student into account.

When staff are faced with the need to react to challenging or aggressive behaviour, they conduct a dynamic risk assessment. A dynamic risk assessment is an active and continuous process by which the person observes the situation and takes into account the historical as well as the current context of the behaviour.

De-escalation strategies

This table offers a staged model for recognising and responding to an escalation of challenging behaviour. It is intended for guidance, as the plan for each individual student must reflect his/her own individual pattern of behaviour, needs and those interventions identified as being successful over time.

Refer also The Assault Cycle Response Chart provided courtesy of PART and used to support students’ Behaviour Support Plans (BSPs).

Stage 1 - Anxiety / trigger

Low level behaviours may include:

Low level staff responses:

Student shows signs of anxiety

Hiding face in hands or bent over / under table

Pulling up collar or hood

Rocking or tapping

Withdrawing from group

Refusing to speak or being dismissive

Refusing to co-operate

Adopting defensive positions

Read the body language

Read the behaviour

Intervene early

Communicate – offer help

Use appropriate humour

Display calm body language

Talk low, slowly and quietly

Offer reassurance – including positive physical prompts

Assess the situation and consider the environment

Divert and distract by introducing another activity or topic

Stage 2 - Defensive / escalation

Medium level behaviours may include:

Medium level staff responses:

Student begins to display higher tension

Belligerent and abusive

Making personal or offensive remarks

Talking louder – higher – quicker

Adopting aggressive postures

Changes in eye contact

Pacing around

Breaking minor rules

Low level destruction

Picking up objects which could be used as weapons

Challenges – ‘I will not … you can’t make me’

Continue to use Stage 1 responses

State desired behaviours clearly

Set clear enforceable limits

Offer alternatives and options

Offer clear choices

Give a get out with dignity

Assess the situation and consider how to make safe

Guide the student person towards safety

Assess need to send for help/ change of personnel

Stage 3 - Crisis

Crisis behaviours may include:

Crisis level staff responses :

Shouting and screaming

Uncontrollable crying

Damaging property

Moving towards danger

Climbing trees, roofs or out of windows

Banging on or threatening to break glass

Use of objects as weapons

Hurting self

Grabbing or threatening others

Hurting others (kicking – slapping – punching)

Continue to use Stage 1 & 2 responses

Make the environment safer

Move furniture and remove weapon objects

Ensure face, voice and posture are supportive

Send for help / consider change of personnel

Guide assertively

Use of manual restraint techniques by trained staff if absolutely necessary

Stage 4 - Recovery*

Recovery behaviours may include:

Staff recovery responses:

Student may sit quietly in hunched


Support and monitor

This may not be a good time to touch as touch at this phase can provoke a reversion to crisis

Give space

Look for signs that student is ready to talk

Consider the environment

Stage 5 - Depression

Depression behaviours

Staff responses to depression:

After a serious incident student can

become depressed

They may not want to interact but need support

and reassurance

Support and monitor

Respond to any signs that the student wants to communicate

Show concern and care but do not attempt to

address consequences of the incident at this


Stage 6 - Follow up (when back to Baseline)

Debrief: Listening and learning

Staff responses during and following debrief

When the student has had time to

calm down it is sometimes possible to

meet with them to debrief in a quiet, neutral space

Follow up any disciplinary or restorative issues

Communicate with student in manner

appropriate to their age, understanding and development

Report, record and review

*Note that the recovery phase can be confused with the anxiety phase, the difference is that a student may revert to extreme anger without the build-up associated with the usual escalation in stage 2.

Different types of physical touch

Contingent Touch

Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff recognise that 'contingent' touch may be used as part of everyday practices.

Examples of contingent touch include:

  • holding the hand of the student at the front/back of the line when walking together around the school, or outside the school
  • when comforting a distressed student
  • when a student is being congratulated or praised
  • to demonstrate how to use a musical instrument or piece of equipment
  • to demonstrate exercises or techniques during PE lessons or OT sessions
  • to give first aid.

Reflexive Touch

Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff recognise the positive use of ‘reflexive’ touch. This is the use of a hands-on way of guiding or redirecting a person away from potential harm/injury, which is consistent with what could reasonably be considered the exercise of a ‘duty of care’ towards the person. This could include momentary contact to guide or redirect a student from touching something hot, (lasting for approximately 30 seconds).

Evasive Touch

Evasive touch is used to break away from dangerous or harmful physical contact without harming or causing pain to the student. Members of all Giant Steps Tasmania teams have received training from PART Training in the use of evasive strategies and it is these staff members who take the lead and guide colleagues in all such incidents.

Restrictive Physical Intervention: Physical Restraint

The only types of Restrictive Physical Intervention allowed at Giant Steps Tasmania are: Mechanical Restraint in the form of harnesses and seat belt guards on buses with the recommendation of a medical practitioner and the approval of the parent/ carer, (see Transportation Policy) and Physical Restraint as a planned emergency response, which is the subject of this policy.

Physical restraint – which is only used in rare cases – is the sustained or prolonged use of any part of a person’s body to prevent, restrict, or subdue movement of the body or part of a body of another person.

Physical Restraint may be used to:

  • separate the student from the events triggering risk and/or challenging behaviour
  • protect the student
  • prevent the committing of any offence (or, for a student under the age of criminal responsibility (10 years), what would be an offence for an older student)
  • prevent the causing of personal injury to any person (including the student him/herself)

At Giant Steps Tasmania the decision to use Physical Restraint is a professional judgment taken calmly and in full knowledge of the desired outcome. Though a last resort, it must be an act of care, not punishment; a conscious decision to act in the student’s or other’s best interest, and not an act of desperation or a tool to force compliance.

Only members of staff trained in the safe use of appropriate Physical Restraint techniques may use such techniques on students.

Physical Restraint Techniques need to be specific to the individual, integrated with other less intrusive approaches, and part of the Behaviour Support Plan (BSP) that each student has and of which each person in the classroom team has a responsibility to be aware.

Physical Restraint is not used simply to keep order in the classroom or other environment.

There are 4 main principles underpinning any Physical Restraint:

  • Physical Restraint should, wherever possible, be avoided.
  • There are occasions when the use of such interventions would be appropriate.
  • Such interventions should always be reasonable and proportional to the circumstances.
  • When Physical Restraint is necessary, staff recognise the need to maintain the dignity of all concerned as well as to preserve their safety.

Giant Steps Tasmania’s staff are aware that it is always unlawful to use force, corporal punishment, pain or physical restraint as a punishment or to enforce compliance. Should this occur at Giant Steps Tasmania, it may result in the immediate termination of a staff member’s contract and/ or the involvement of an external agency (e.g. police).

All physical restraint interventions are reported as soon as possible and preferably before the end of the day to the Principal via the use of an Incident Report Form.

Only the minimum of intervention necessary to prevent injury or to remove the risk of harm should be applied and this is accompanied by calmly letting the student know what they need to do to remove the need for physical restraint.

Staff recognise signs indicating when a student is becoming calm whilst being held. As soon as it is safe to do so, the physical restraint should be gradually relaxed to allow the student to gain self-control.

Following an incident where physical restraint has been used, all involved, including staff and students (where possible), are given the opportunity to reflect on and discuss in detail what has happened and the effect this has had on them. This happens once the people involved are calm, and is done in a safe and neutral environment. Interviews are conducted appropriately according to the age and developmental stage of the student. At no point is this process used to apportion blame or dispense punishment. If at any point there is reason to suspect that someone involved has been injured or severely distressed, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Record keeping helps ensure policy is followed correctly. It is also used to inform parents and to inform future planning as part of improvement processes. An accurate record helps to prevent misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the incident, and to provide a record for any future enquiry. This should be done within 24 hours of the intervention. Recording is essential in helping to update the risk assessment concerning the student, and whether changes need to be made to their individual BSP.

Support for other students witnessing or otherwise involved in the incident will need to be considered. This may involve giving the person who has been restrained the opportunity to recognise and help repair the damage or harm that has resulted from their behaviour, and enable them to develop their emotional and social skills.


In most cases, students will have displayed instances of challenging behaviour prior to joining Giant Steps and parents/ carers will inform the school of this as part of the enrolment process. In some cases, challenging behaviour may develop once the student has enrolled. In both of these scenarios, timely and accurate record keeping is paramount in ensuring the student is effectively supported, parents/ carers are part of the support process and the safety of the school community is prioritised.



When/ For whom

Behaviour Recording Sheet (BRS)

To record what behaviours have been identified prior to enrolment, or appear to be developing since enrolment

Initially classroom staff.

Frequency Recording Sheet (FRS)

To record when identified behaviours occur (in order to help identify possible triggers.)

Initially classroom staff.

After two weeks, BRS and FRS could be copied and discussed at Professionals’ Meeting or could be used to complete STAR chart (see below)

Settings, Triggers, Actions, Results (STAR) Recording Chart

To begin to think about why the student may be exhibiting these behaviours (and therefore how they could be supported to change/ replace them)

If this has not been brought to the Professionals’ Meeting, it will be completed at the Professionals’ Meeting when the BRS & FRS are presented.

Aspect Practice Form

Could be used in preference to the STAR Chart

As above

Behaviour Support Action Plan

To support student to amend/ replace negative behaviours

Discussed and completed at Professionals’ Meeting. Forms part of IESP, so also for parents/ carers

*Student Behaviour Support Summary

To ensure all classroom and AH staff are aware of needs and support strategies

Regularly reviewed and amended. For all staff.

Incident Report Form

To record all significant** incidents

Completed preferably on the day of the incident and no longer than 24 hours after the incident. These are potentially legal documents, so require a degree of formality.

Major Incident Behaviour Record

To analyse what happened during a major incident (involving harm to a student, staff member, visitor or member of the community and/ or the need to Physically Restrain a student) and review and amend Behaviour Support Action Plan and Student Behaviour Support Summary if necessary.

Together with Incident Report Forms, these may show the need for external agencies to become involved.

Up to 3 working days after the incident. These could be seen/ used by external specialists and agencies.

* A Student Behaviour Support Summary will have been drafted during a student’s transition into Giant Steps if the school is advised of challenging behaviour at enrolment. The summary will be reviewed and updated regularly.

** A significant incident is one which involves at least one of the following:

  • unwanted physicality from a student to another student
  • unwanted physicality from a student to a staff member or other adult
  • a PART trained member of staff needing to use evasive touch (refer Different Types of Physical Touch) because of a student’s actions
  • a PART trained member of staff needing to Physically Restrain a student (refer Different Types of Physical Touch) because of a student’s actions

External Support

If Incident Reports and/ or Major Incident Behaviour Records show that the severity and/ or frequency of incidents is not reducing in spite of all identified strategies being implemented as intended, the Principal will seek input from external agencies.

Suspension of services to a student is only ever used as a last resort, to ensure the safety of the student and others when all other options have been exhausted.


Students and their parents/carers have a right to complain about actions taken by staff. This includes the use of physical restraint. (see Grievance Policy)

Authorised by:



Date revisions accepted:

Original policy developed by:

Chris Jacobsen


(Previously) Education Administrator

Date Original Policy developed:

April, 2016

Date of last review:

June, 2017

Staff consultation period:

June 2021

Revisions prepared by:

Chris Jacobsen, Fairlight Educational Consulting

Date of next review:

July, 2023

Coffee Club!