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Like-minded organisations in pursuit of restraint-free services

The Restraint Reduction Network welcomes the Westminster Government’s confirmation of changes to guidance relating to the use of restrictive practices in schools.

Following a range of recommendations made to the Department for Education by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) the Westminster Government has confirmed it will:

  1. Provide new guidance on restraint in schools to promote de-escalation practices to avoid restraint
  2. Bring into force primary legislation, contained in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, to make the recording of physical force mandatory in schools and make it a legal duty to inform parents when it has been used
  3. Make it compulsory for all schools to have a restraint policy covering recording

The recommendations and ensuing confirmation of these changes follow an EHRC inquiry into the use of restraint in schools in England and Wales. The RRN worked with the EHRC to support the inquiry and is pleased to hear the subsequent recommendations have been taken on by the Department for Education.

Beth Morrison, Restraint Reduction Network Trustee said:

“I am delighted to hear the announcement from the EHRC, following their inquiry in 2020, which will mean that the UK Government will issue new guidance on the use of restraint in schools promoting a preventative approach to avoid the need for restraint and to make the recording of physical force mandatory along with a legal duty to tell families when restraint has been used on their child.

This follows years of campaigning by families and carers who have been so brave in telling their stories in order to have their child’s voice heard.”

We know that many children and young people experience inappropriate restraint within educational settings and that children with additional needs are more likely to experience restraint and enforced isolation than other pupils. The requirement for schools to record all restraint and to inform the child’s family, is a positive step towards reducing the unnecessary use of restrictive practices within schools. The mandating of recording and reporting on the use of restrictive practices is essential to understand the scale of the use of restraint within schools. Only by fully understanding the this, can steps be taken to eradicate its unnecessary use.

We are pleased that guidance will focus on promoting de-escalation, seeking to avoid the use of restraint before it happens. The key to achieving this is ensuring staff training focuses on preventive approaches and human rights as is the case with training certified as meeting the RRN training standards. The EHRC report states “National training standards would help ensure that training focused on minimising restraint and taking a human rights-based approach. There is already a model for this, which has departmental support in other sectors, applicable in the school sector. The Restraint Reduction Network has developed national training standards for restraint – which are accepted by the NHS – that could be adapted for schools.”

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on guidance including the recommendation that schools use training certified as complying with the RRN Training Standards – designed to protect human rights and support the minimisation of restrictive practices.

We hope that further clarification regarding training expectations and requirements will be published to embed a consistent human-rights based approach within education settings. It is essential that staff are appropriately trained and supported through regulated training to ensure that the guidance results in tangible culture change and better protects children and young people in British schools. The RRN calls on the Westminster Government to take this opportunity to enact statutory guidance for training and training providers to be certified as complying with the RRN training standards.