Teachers could get more powers to physically control students

The Education Minister hasn't ruled out a review of the powers teachers have to control misbehaving students.

It comes after a controversial decision in which a teacher was found guilty of misconduct after grabbing a student and carrying him to the principal's office.

The details of the incident have emerged for the first time.

A disciplinary tribunal heard a teacher intervened when student 'A' was hurting other students. He was told to go to the principal's office. The teacher then steered him towards the office.

Student A grabbed a bar and the teacher prised his fingers off it. Eventually the teacher grabbed the student by the waist and carried him to the office.

The Tribunal found the teacher's actions amounted to a sustained use of force and the teacher accepted that would adversely affect the wellbeing of the student. His actions added to the student's distress and reflected adversely on his fitness to practice.

The Tribunal decided the teacher wasn't guilty of serious misconduct but still it censured him for misconduct.

A group that represents Northland principals says that's "bloody stupid".

"To me that is not assault, that is not even unprofessional, to me it's more unprofessional to do nothing," says Pat Newman, President of Te Tai Tokerau Principals Association.

"We used to have a little bit more discretion and what we called common sense and I'm a great believer that the law is the law but when it's an ass common sense should prevail."

The current rules require there to be a serious and imminent risk to safety before teachers can use reasonable and proportionate physical restraint.

"They have tied our hands not only behind our backs but up around our necks as well," Mr Newman says.

The tribunal accepted the teacher's use of force didn't constitute physical abuse and that Student A's behaviour and known history placed the teacher in a difficult situation to protect other students - but in a statement on Thursday said using force against children when it is neither justified nor reasonable is not appropriate conduct for teachers.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said he understands the frustrations in the classroom. He says it's difficult to find a balance between students' rights and teachers' powers and even suggested a review of the rules if there are more problems.