Ravenswood School is an all age special school based in North Somerset. The school caters for a wide variety of students with ASD, social and communication difficulties, social emotional difficulties and mental health needs.

Historically, all staff at the school have been trained in restraint techniques to keep themselves and pupils safe.

Around five years ago we wanted a different approach to support behaviour. We wanted to ensure students and staff are supported in the right way and upskilled in appropriate de-escalation strategies that help pupils feel and remain safe, without the need for physical intervention.

After extensive research we felt that MAPA®, and then Pivotal MAPA®, provided the school with the training required to meet our goals. We felt the MAPA® ethos and approaches were ideal for our environment.

CPI was very supportive and worked alongside the leadership team to create a training programme that was based on real life experiences which staff could identify with and learn from.

Building confidence

CPI MAPA® trained 45 front line staff including senior leaders, teachers and learning support assistants. The training, which was tailored to meet our specific needs, really helped to build staff confidence.


Mark Senior, headteacher with Katie Barnes, deputy head and Cheri Frost, assistant head

In 2018 the school was one of the first in the country to receive Pivotal MAPA® one-day training.

The biggest challenge for the school was changing staff and pupils’ attitudes and understanding around the use of restraint and the importance of preventative and de-escalation strategies.

To combat this, the school leadership team ensured that the reduction of physical restraint was a key priority.

After initial MAPA® training, the school reviewed all of its current strategies including how we reported incidents, how we used holds and how we established therapeutic rapport.

Things needed to change and become more robust.

Now, after each incident, students and staff are debriefed to find out what happened, what went well and how we can improve or prevent the students’ behaviour escalating in the future.

Support plans

Student voice is used to drive what kind of support works best for each individual. We’ve adapted support plans and they are regularly reviewed to ensure best practice is followed at all times.

Behaviour incident forms  and methods of recording have been revamped and now include the integrated model of behaviour, prompting staff to record the anxiety, defensive, crisis behaviours as well as tension reduction.

We then use this information to support pupils to understand which behaviours they showed when they were anxious / defensive and which strategies they could use before they get to crisis/ risky behaviours.

We also continue to work with parents so they are well informed and supportive of the school interventions.

All of the training was well received by staff and the school continues to prioritise reducing restraint in the school improvement plan keeping it at the forefront of all our minds.

Whole culture change

Ravenswood School has changed its ethos. In the past, many staff would use restraint when a student displayed risky behaviour as their first intervention rather than their last; this is no longer the case.

With the support of MAPA® training the school was able to support staff and promote the benefits of using different approaches.

Crucially, the use of Restrictive Physical Intervention (RPI) has significantly decreased since 2016 with the figure dropping by 0.23 RPIs each week since 2016.


There has also been a significant decrease in staff injuries over the same period.

Overall the school has changed. The pupils are in more control of their behaviour and have cemented strategies that can help them when anxious, giving them more ownership of their own behaviour.

The staff are more confident to use preventative and de-escalation strategies rather that intervening physically and they can see the benefits of doing so.

No child comes to school to get held and no staff who work at Ravenswood want to do this. On occasion we do still need to physically intervene but everyone knows this is a last resort and only done once all other options have been exhausted.

Staff at Ravenswood School are skilled professionals who ensure that the pupils who attend our school are happy, feel safe and are ready for learning.