Petitioner: Mrs Beth Morrison
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.
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. The Official Report will be available no later than 27 April 2017
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.