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Like-minded organisations in pursuit of restraint-free services

Leading panel of Children’s Commissioners discuss protection of children from restraint and seclusion in school

Our Restraint Reduction Conference held in Leeds and virtually at the end of last month featured a panel of Children’s Commissioners or their representatives from across the UK, looking at the use of restraint in schools.

Chaired by Sir Norman Lamb, RRN Patron and Chair of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the panel explored issues relating to the need for statutory recording and reporting of restraint in schools, as well as the need for quality assurance training on restrictive practices for school staff.

Sir Norman opened the panel with the question: What needs to be done to better protect children from physical and psychological harm from restraint in schools?”

The panel included:

  • Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland
  • Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People
  • Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales
  • Emily Frith from the office of the Children’s Commissioner for England
  • Dr Oliver Lewis, a barrister specialising in disability, mental health and human rights law from Doughty Street Chambers
  • Jonathan Timbers from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Key issues such as the lack of data relating to the use of restraint in schools and the need for clear guidance for teachers was discussed. The panel also warned that children in schools in England had less protection against the use of restraint than adults in mental health settings.

A poll of 83 people who attended the panel found that all of them believed there should be statutory recording and reporting of restraint in schools. As well as this, in a second poll of 82 people, 100% believed there should be quality assurance of training that includes restrictive practices in schools.

The RRN Conference explored wider education topics over the two-day event, including the following sessions:

  • Restraint in Schools’ Inquiry: Using Meaningful Data to Protect Children’s Rights with Jonathan Timbers, Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Update on the New Physical Intervention Guidance in Schools in Scotland with Kate Sanger, Co-Creator of MyCompass and Robert Eckhart, Learning Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Update on Restraint in Schools in Northern Ireland with Deirdre Shakespeare, Harry’s Law Northern Ireland, Restraint & Seclusion in Schools and Chris Lyttle, MLA Alliance Party, Belfast Metropolitan Area

You can watch the full Children’s Commissioners panel recording below.