Media release: Scotland’s largest teaching union calls for national guidance on restraint and seclusion

Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, has today called for the Scottish Government to produce national guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.

The call comes as a result of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland investigation into the practice. The investigation revealed that children were at risk of suffering serious human rights breaches due to inadequate, inconsistent or non-existent policies and guidance on restraint and seclusion at national and local level.  Across Scotland restraint and seclusion was largely unmonitored by local authorities, so that it was impossible to know with any degree of certainty how many incidents take place in Scotland each year, which children are most affected, how frequently and how seriously.

Nick Hobbs, Head of Advice and Investigations, said:

“The Scottish Government must heed the call from the EIS, as well as the longstanding pleas from parents and children, to put in place robust national policy and guidance on restraint and seclusion in schools.

“It is clear that this is essential to protect children, support staff and meet the Government’s obligations under international law. After the First Minister’s welcome announcement that she will move to incorporate the UNCRC by 2021, this is a perfect opportunity for her Government to show what a commitment to children’s human rights means in practice.”

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland has now published analysis of the responses from all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities to the “No Safe Place: Restraint and Seclusion in Scotland’s Schools” investigation.

The Commissioner’s office made 22 recommendations to improve matters and to ensure that children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled in schools.

The responses from local authorities display widespread agreement with the Commissioner’s recommendations, with 82% of those who expressed a view also calling for national policy and guidance.

Half of authorities indicated in their response that they had already begun action to address the shortcomings identified in the report by reviewing, revising and redrafting their policies.  Four authorities who were identified in the original investigation as having no policy in place are now working on remedying that failing.

“We are pleased that local authorities have responded positively and constructively to the office’s recommendations ,” Mr Hobbs said, “We await the detailed response to our recommendations from the Scottish Government, and a clear indication of a timescale for national policy and guidance to be put in place to ensure children are protected, staff are supported and Ministers can be confident that they are discharging their legal obligations.”

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