Skip to main content

Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-01116: Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 29 June 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to teachers regarding the appropriate and safe 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 responses to public petition PE01548 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 guidance will also set out the circumstances in which physical restraint may be appropriate as a last resort and as part of a planned approach.

There is already a range of guidance on this issue in place. The Scottish Government guidance Holding Safely on the use of restraint in residential settings, which is also applicable in schools and other establishments, was updated in 2013. Further, additional guidance for child protection for disabled children was published in 2014. This applies to all settings, and states that inappropriate restraint, sanctions, humiliation, intimidation, verbal abuse, and having needs ignored; depending on the circumstances, may also be criminal offences, acts of gross misconduct and reportable to Police Scotland and relevant professional regulatory bodies.

With Scotland and the Scottish Ministerial Working Group on Child Protection and Disability produced a ‘toolkit’ for practitioners (2014). It is aimed at practitioners and managers in child and family and disability services. Ensuring disabled children's wellbeing is everybody's responsibility and an awareness of what constitutes best practice is essential. It is critical that all practitioners are aware of the potential vulnerability of disabled children and of what constitutes best practice in protecting them from the risk of abuse and neglect.

All local authorities should provide staff with training and guidelines on appropriate levels of intervention including physical restraint.