RRN welcomes Department for Education’s call for evidence on the use of reasonable force and restrictive practices in schools

The Restraint Reduction Network welcomes the government’s efforts to review and update guidance on the use of physical restraint in schools, with a formal call for evidence being announced on Friday 16th February 2023.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already made positive progress in ensuring school staff have the right guidance and training to reduce the use of restraint. Following the plan  in August 2022 to take forward learnings from the Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry, we are pleased to see the Department for Education taking forward their commitment Ito review and improve the current guidance that covers schools in England.

All 4 children’s commissioners in the UK are supportive of better protection for children in schools. You can watch them talking at the RRN conference here.

Physical restraint and enforced isolation causes distress and trauma, undermines dignity and leaves children and young people feeling vulnerable in a place where they should feel safe and supported.

We know that children with additional needs are more likely to experience restraint than others, which is why improved guidance is needed to help schools and teachers respond appropriately to each individual pupils’ needs and ensure a consistent, human-rights based approach is embedded across all education settings.

Once finalised, we encourage the department to publish statutory guidance for all education settings in England, including the requirement to make mandatory the recording of all restrictive practices in schools.

Sarah Leitch, RRN Director of Development, said: “We welcome the DfE’s commitment to updating guidance for schools on restrictive practices. We have had positive conversations with DfE about need for statutory recording and reporting, hearing from people with lived experience of being restrained, the problems with current guidance justifying use of force to maintain good order and the need for quality assurance of training. There has been progress in health in England and in devolved nations in schools. It is vital that DfE put in place similar protections for children in England.”

Share your views in the DfE’s call for evidence survey here.

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