PETMA™ for Schools

PETMA™ (Professional Ethical Therapeutic Mindful Approach) stands as the pioneering and sole Irish-based model of behaviour management training accredited with the Restraint Reduction Network, BILD Certified, and proudly Guaranteed Irish. Developed by Martha McGinn and Bernie Kerridge, Company Directors of the National Institute of Intellectual Disability Studies, PETMA™ emerged from extensive research into the needs of those providing support to children and young people in special schools, schools, special classes, or residential and respite care settings in Ireland.

Providing support to children and young people in special schoolsPETMA™ is meticulously designed to equip teachers, SNAs, and other education professionals with the fundamental professional, ethical, and therapeutic competencies, knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to support children and young people in school settings during moments of distress.

The programme aims to guide them to a calmer state while ensuring the safety of all involved. These programme focus on providing learners with relevant skills in prevention, prediction, and recognition of escalating situations, as well as the ability to manage actual or potential verbal or physical distressful behaviour.

Expert Training Needs Analysis  

The PETMA™ journey within any organisation begins with a comprehensive Training Needs Analysis which is a consultation process to assess the conditions and potential incidents involving individuals within the organisation to ensure the delivery of a customised training programme.

Given the intricate professional, legal, and ethical aspects of supporting individuals who may engage in physically harmful and or distressful behaviour, our approach follows the HSE's "Linking Service and Safety" (2008) which recommends:

Consultation process that includes: 

  • Direct interaction with individuals who may engage in distressful behaviour to understand their sources of distress.
  • Clinical consultations with direct support staff and, if necessary, reviewing individual service user files.
  • Discussions with Health & Safety representatives and those responsible for risk management.
  • Consultations with senior management.
  • All documented and undocumented incidents are analysed, and their training implications are incorporated into the programme design.

Customised Training Programme Development

The National Institute of Intellectual Disabilities leverages a wide range of resources and training modules to create a bespoke programme tailored to the training needs identified through the analysis. This ensures the delivery of behaviour training, positive support strategies, and physical interventions within the appropriate context organisation. Our expertise includes comprehensive training on Positive Behaviour Support and support for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Mental Health Difficulties, and Attachment Disorder.

Post-TNA Programme Development

Following the Expert Training Needs Analysis (ETNA), we develop a programme that includes a mix of bespoke and mandatory modules from an extensive list, such as: 

  • Understanding the realities of having an Intellectual Disability/Acquired Brain Injury/Autism, Anxiety Disorder
  • Positive Behaviour Support: Values, assessment methods, and strategies using Person-Centred Approaches to develop proactive strategies.
  • De-escalation Skills: Verbal, environnemental, empathy, collaboration and active listening techniques.
  • Decision Making: Incorporating legislation, guidance, policy, professional, moral, and ethical considerations.
  • Disengagement and Breakaway Techniques: Safe and effective methods.
  • Restrictive Physical Interventions: Techniques ranging from single-person to two-person removals, escorts, and seated interventions.
  • Post-Incident Support, Management, and Reporting: Strategies to support staff and individuals after an incident.

 Compliance and Accreditation

  • HIQA's "National Quality Standards in Residential Care Settings for People with Intellectual Disabilities" (2013).
  • Health Act Regulations SI 367
  • The Mental Health Act 2001
  • HSE Mental Health Rights
  • HSE's "Linking Service and Safety" (2008).
  • Category 1 approval from the Nursing and Midwifery Board

Accredited by the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD). By being certified by Bild Association of Certified Training, we have demonstrated that our training services comply with the Restraint Reduction Network Training Standards. This is a rigorous process that is accredited by UKAS as meeting the ISO 17065:2012 standards for certification. You can check below to view our certification

The Department of Education's "Managing Behaviour in Schools Policy, Respect for All" (2015).

The Department of Education's "Educational Provision and Support for Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: The Report of the Task Force on Autism."




There are three programmes available.

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This programme is tailored for staff supporting children and young people with a range of developmental disabilities, including Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, Attachment Disorder, or educational and/or social vulnerability. These individuals may occasionally exhibit behaviours of concern, potentially leading to distressing or verbal and physical distressful behaviour.

Specifically, this programme is suitable for:

  • Teachers
  • Special Needs Assistants (SNAs)
  • Resource Teachers
  • Managers
  • Direct support workers
  • Parents
  • Unpaid carers

Allied professionals working in mainstream schools, special education settings, respite, or residential services.

These services may be provided by the Department of Education, HSE, voluntary bodies, or private agencies. For further information, please request a brochure here.

This programme is meticulously designed to fulfil the mandatory requirements for all staff working with children and young people in schools or disability services. However, it goes beyond the basics by offering an opportunity for staff to delve into an in-depth case study focusing on child or young people experiencing significant distress. This aspect of the programme involves a thorough examination of the root causes and triggers behind their distressful behaviour.

This programme is specifically tailored for individuals supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) who may exhibit behaviour of concern, potentially resulting in distressing behaviour and verbal or physical distress.

The programme is designed for staff working in various educational settings, including mainstream schools and special education settings. These services may be provided by the Department of Education, HSE, voluntary bodies, or private agencies, such as early education services or out-of-school recreation programme.

Specifically, this programme is suitable for:

  • Teachers
  • Special Needs Assistants (SNAs)
  • Resource teachers
  • School principals
  • Bus escorts
  • After-school club staff
  • Allied professionals

For further information, please request a brochure here.

What is PETMA™ TTT? 

PETMA™ TTT presents a distinct behaviour support training approach for disability organisations, schools, and nursing homes in Ireland, which is HIQA compliant, standing out from other models which have flooded the market. While many of these models originated as staff self-defence courses, PETMA™ took a different approach by listening to service users' voices. This enabled the development of a behaviour support model centred on understanding, empathy, compassion, and collaboration with service users.

PETMA™ TTT empowers trainers to enact real change in classrooms, enabling them to deliver tailored content relevant to the individuals they support. Through conducting a Training Needs Analysis (TNA), trainers gain insight into the practical challenges and realities faced by staff daily. This knowledge allows them to deliver the 2-day Foundation Programme with a mix of mandatory modules and also to craft a customised training programme, drawing on our vast number of modules that addresses specific needs effectively.  


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