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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-01115: Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 29 June 2016

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the letter from its Learning Directorate on 23 February 2016 to the Public Petitions Committee regarding PE01548, National Guidance on Restraint and Seclusion in Schools, whether it will provide an update on its position on providing national guidance with regard to the use of physical restraint in schools on children with (a) additional support needs and (b) learning difficulties.

Answered by: John Swinney 25 July 2016

We have made clear that the Scottish Government is committed to incorporating further guidance on physical restraint and seclusion within the refreshed Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: A Positive Approach to Preventing and Managing Schools Exclusions. This guidance is for all children, including children with complex additional support needs, including those arising from learning disabilities. This is in line with the petition responses stating that restraint and seclusion should be seen within the context of early intervention, positive relationships and behaviour.

The purpose of the guidance is to support local authorities, mainstream and special schools and other learning establishments and their partners to keep all children and young people fully included, engaged and involved in their education wherever this takes place; and to improve outcomes for those most at risk of exclusion. The guidance focuses on prevention, early intervention and responses to individual need, incorporating staged interventions and additional support to prevent problems escalating.

The draft guidance is clear that ‘it is only acceptable to physically intervene or to restrain a child or young person where the member of staff reasonably believes in all the circumstances that if he/she does not physically intervene or restrain the child or young person, the child or young person’s actions are likely to cause physical damage or harm to that pupil or to another person.’ It also highlights that ‘The use of physical intervention, physical restraint and seclusion should all be included in an agreed plan and be used as a last resort. Where seclusion is used it should be used under supervision and should take into account the additional support needs of the child or young person.’

The guidance also makes clear that local authorities should ensure that appropriate support and training is provided. This should include guidance on support following an incident for all those involved. Local authorities should also monitor, record and review any incidents involving physical restraint and seclusion using their own reporting mechanisms. It is also clear that these approaches should not be used for disciplinary purposes.