The Children and Young People Commissioner for Scotland Bruce Adamson has launched a formal investigation into restraint and seclusion in schools. Campaigner Beth Morrison tells us why this is such an important step.
“After seven and a half years of campaigning for change, including a Parliamentary Petition that is still being debated after more than 3 years, I am delighted that Bruce Adamson has launched a formal investigation into restraint and seclusion in schools.
The Children and Young People’s Commissioner has had the power to conduct investigations since the office was created. The fact that he has chosen this issue as the first use of his powers shows how serious and how widespread the problem is.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is clear that restraint and seclusion violate a child’s right to be free from degrading treatment or punishment. I know that there are many good teachers out there doing fantastic work every day, caring for learning disabled children without the need for restrictive practices.Their professionalism is however being undermined by a hard core of people who do not show the same level of professionalism.
The toxic culture apparent in some schools, and indeed in some council education departments, let down those teachers and carers who wish to do their job to the best of their ability, with the care and empathy learning disabled children need.
There is some excellent provision out there in some parts of Scotland, and the rest of the UK. It often uses evidence-based practice such as Positive Behaviour Support, which reduces the need for restraint and seclusion to very low levels. What I want is for that best practice to be rolled out across the whole of the country. I would like to see England, Wales and Ireland follow Scotland’s lead. This will enhance the lives, not only of the most vulnerable children in our society, but also all of those who care and look after them including teachers and support staff. Who wouldn’t welcome that?