Enquire have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the proposed Restraint and Seclusion (Prevention in Schools) (Scotland) Bill, reflecting on the current limited legislation and guidance, and the impact this has on the families who contact us.
Our response, written in collaboration with Children in Scotland, supports the aspirations of the proposed Bill and for culture change, but highlights the need for further clarity on the impact of any new legislation.
We share what parents and carers have told us about the use of restraint and seclusion in school and the negative physical and psychological impact this can have on the child or young person involved, particularly when this is used too often, inappropriately or without due process.
In addition, more robust guidance is needed for school staff around the principles and use of restraint and seclusion, as well as for those in organisations responding to queries from families.
More clarity and training needed
Making reference to our 2022 response on a relationship and rights-based approach to intervention in school, we reiterate:
- The need for clear definitions of restraint and seclusion
- A focus on de-escalation and appropriate, planned support being in place to minimise the need for physical intervention
- Support, supervision and training for all professionals supporting children at risk of being restrained and secluded
- Clear and accessible routes for families wishing to escalate concerns around the use of restraint
- Clear routes for communication and reporting to parents, carer and young people
Consider current and new legislation
Whilst understanding the need for more robust guidance, we suggest consideration of legislation already in existence, including the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, as well as anticipated new legislation such as the UNCRC Scotland Bill and the Autism and Neurodiversity Bill. We ask if some provisions could be included in these broader Bills.
We also share reservations regarding the timeframe associated with the introduction of new policy and legislation, and how this could negatively impact children, young people and families who are in immediate need of guidance and support.
Hannah Gray, Enquire’s Senior Information and Advice Officer said:
“Through our helpline, outreach and other communication activity we are aware of the negative impact the use of restraint and seclusion can have on children, young people and their families.
“We are also aware that a lack of clear and robust guidance leaves current procedures differing across Scotland. This creates difficulties both for those in education settings as well as for advice staff who are responding to enquiries from families. This lack of clarity can increase the distress and worries that children, families and professionals themselves can experience in what can be tricky and emotive situations.
“It is vitally important that we have a clearer definition, measures in place to reduce the use of physical intervention including support and training for staff, improved lines of communication and a simplified process for families looking to seek redress. However, we share concerns over the timeframe associated with introducing new legislation, and how this could impact the children, young people, families and staff who need clear guidance now.
“We support the aspiration of the Bill to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion and agree there is a need for culture change but encourage further discussion around this emotive and complex issue.”
Read our full response in full here
Looking for more on this topic?
Visit our pages for parents and carers on Keeping your child safe at school