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PE01548: National Guidance on Restraint and Seclusion in Schools


Petitioner: Mrs Beth Morrison


Date Lodged: 17 February 2015

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to 

1.  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.

2. 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.

Petition History:


17 March 2015: The Committee took evidence from Beth Morrison, Ian Hood, Learning Disability Alliance Scotland and Kate Sanger, the Challenging Behaviour Foundation. The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government, the Care Inspectorate, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, ENABLE Scotland, the Scottish Children's Services Coalition, the Educational Institute for Scotland, COSLA, Children 1st and the Ministerial Working Group on Child Protection and Disability. Link to Official Report 17 March 2015

26 May 2015: The Committee agreed to write to the General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report 26 May 2015

22 September 2015: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report 22 September 2015 

1 December 2015: The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the petition until the new year. Link to Official Report 1 December 2015

9 February 2016: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report 9 February 2016

8 March 2016: The Committee agreed to include the petition in its legacy paper for consideration by the Session 5 Public Petitions Committee. In doing so, the Committee agreed to write to the Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland. Link to Official Report 8 March 2016    

27 October 2016: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report 27 October 2016

19 January 2017: The Committee agreed to seek an update from the Scottish Government on publication and use of the ‘communication passport’ and the ‘toolkit’ for practitioners, and to invite the Deputy First Minister to provide oral evidence at a future meeting. Link to Official Report 19 January 2017

20 April 2017: The Committee agreed to reflect on the evidence from the Deputy First Minister and to consider a note by the clerk at a future meeting. Link to the Official Report

11 May 2017: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report 11 May 2017 

21 September 2017: The Committee agreed to write to the Deputy First Minister. Link to Report 21 September 2017

22 March 2018: The Committee agreed to write to the Deputy First Minister and the UK Government. Link to the Official Report 22 March 2018

24 May 2018: The Committee agreed to write to the UK Government and the Deputy First Minister. Link to Official Report 24 May 2018 

27 June 2019: The Committee agreed to invite the petitioner to respond to the Deputy First Minister’s submission and to invite the Children’s Commissioner to give evidence at a future meeting. Link to Official Report of 27 June 2019

Written Submissions:

No national guidance on the use of seclusion and restraint for children in local authority day school exists in Scotland.  Such policies exist for some other groups of young people.  For example, a policy exists for looked after children in the care of local authorities; however there currently is no government policy that provides protection for children with special needs who attend local authority education or care facilities on a daily basis.

This is a particularly acute problem for children with complex additional support needs who may attend either special or mainstream schools with a learning support base.  A number of them have communicative behaviours that are unfamiliar to staff and without clear guidance then an inappropriate response may occur.

Parents in a number of areas report that serious problems can occur in local authority schools that operate without such national guidance.

Such problems include prone restraint, inappropriate wheelchair restraint, and children being kept in seclusion with no monitoring of the length of time they spend alone / no risk assessment done of the effect this might have on them. On some occasions this is alleged to have resulted in injury and considerable distress for the children and young people involved in the incidents.

While there is lots of guidance around about what should happen such as the British Institute of Learning Disabilities “BILD Code of Practice for minimising the use of restrictive physical interventions: planning, developing and delivering training.”  However like all the other guidance and statements above, it is not mandatory.

We are calling on the Scottish Government to address this policy gap as a matter of urgency to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all school children.

Autism Eye magazine has a campaign 'Stop the Abuse of Chill Out Rooms'. We have evidence from whistle blowing teachers that this abuse is happening in schools right across the UK. Stop this abuse and protect vulnerable children.

Gillian Loughran

17:06 on 17 Feb 2015

every child has a right!. No child should be subjected to this no matter what there personal needs are, there needs to be guideliness and training implemented here for staff to deal with situations with dignity and safety for all involved.

Lyndsey Hayes

22:54 on 16 Feb 2015

This needs to be delt with instantly get your act together we voted you in so you work for the public !!!!

Maureen Moore

8:55 on 16 Feb 2015


Gail Duddridge

8:09 on 16 Feb 2015

I am shocked & disappointed that there are no national guidelines on restraint. We need to b protecting our vulnerable children.

MaryAnn McComb

23:31 on 15 Feb 2015

All children should be free from distress feel safe and overall wellbeing should be of paramount importance.

linda coleman

19:30 on 15 Feb 2015

I hope u get this approved

Mary Zimmerman

17:47 on 15 Feb 2015

This is shocking behaviour. My son is autistic, my son can show complex behaviour if he is worried or someone has shouted at him for something he didnt understand...There is not enough training on children

sarah fellows

16:42 on 15 Feb 2015

Parents, or any other adult can be prosecuted if they smack or assault a none disabled child, so why is it acceptable to assault a disabled child ? Do the government think that disabled children are worth less than a none disabled child ? ?

Christine Stringer Mrs

18:02 on 13 Feb 2015

Words fail me.

christina TAYLOR

17:13 on 13 Feb 2015

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