National Guidance exists for the use of restraint on “looked after” children in Scotland but nothing similar covers children with special needs in schools. This is a major oversight and means schools have no national standards on the appropriateness of restraint techniques, the use of de-escalation and the necessary levels of training.
This means that is some circumstances, bad practice has arisen and parents have little recourse to challenge teaching and other support staff. For more information see our stories on the events at Kingspark School in Dundee.
Even more surprising is that there is no external supervision of the care regime in schools. HMIE does not cover this in their inspections. It is left up the same local authorities who employ staff and run the schools to monitor them. This is a real concern and we are supporting a national petition to start a national dialogue to improve this picture.
The petition calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to:
- Introduce National Guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion in all schools; this guidance should support the principles of:
- Last resort – where it is deemed necessary, restraint should be the minimum required to deal with the agreed risk, for the minimum amount of time
- Appropriate supervision of the child at all times, including during “time out” or seclusion.
- Reducing the use of solitary exclusion and limiting the time it is used for (e.g. maximum time limits)
- No use of restraints that are cruel, humiliating, painful and unnecessary or not in line with trained techniques.
- Accountability of teaching and support staff for their actions; this should include recording every incident leading to the use of seclusion or restraint and monitoring of this by the local authority.
- Regular training for staff in how to avoid the use of restraint
- Where restraint is unavoidable training in appropriate restraint techniques by British Institute of Learning Disability accredited providers and no use of restraint by untrained staff.
- Appoint a specific agency (either Education Scotland or possibly the Care Inspectorate) to monitor the support and care given in non-educational areas including the evaluation of the use of restraint and seclusion of children with special needs in local authority, voluntary sector or private special schools