Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Government directed to protect children from restrictive practices in schools

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has directed the UK and Northern Ireland to protect children from restrictive practices (such as restraint and seclusion) in schools.

The Committee said the use of restraint and seclusion in UK schools as a disciplinary practice should be prohibited, and only used as a true last resort. They also said there should be a ban on police presence in schools and that schools should publish their own restraint and seclusion data.

A new system which holds schools accountable

Three organisations, the International Coalition Against Restraint and Seclusion (ICARS), NeuroClastic and 11:11 Media Impact, have released a joint statement expressing their appreciation for the Committee’s concluding observations.

ICARS says it is “encouraged” to see that some of the legislative protections it recommended in its latest report are echoed in the UNCRC’s conclusions.

The organisations are now calling on Westminster to introduce numerous legislative protections including:

  • The elimination of seclusion and isolation (restrictive practices)
  • Prohibition of restraint for anything other than “true last resort,” removing it as a disciplinary measure
  • The public release of reporting, recording, and analysis of restraint and seclusion data in line with international best practice
  • The creation of robust complaint mechanisms enabling survivors, parents, and caregivers to report incidents of abuse and maltreatment; complaints are investigated, and when individuals are found to have mistreated or abused children, they are held accountable.

“A global precedent for upholding the human rights of children”

In their statement, the organisations said: “The new conclusions from the UNCRC committee contain the most comprehensive and powerful recommendations regarding restraint and seclusion in educational settings to date. The findings set a global precedent for upholding the human rights of children.

“We wish to extend our gratitude towards the Department for Education for their willingness to engage in constructive discussions regarding the proposed amendments to the ‘Use of reasonable force in schools’ guidance.

“Our commitment to being “critical friends” in this dialogue remains strong. We sincerely hope that subsequent legislative measures will embrace the recommendations put forth by ICARS and the United Nations.

“Our shared objective is to safeguard children’s welfare and provide robust support for educators, ultimately aiming for a fair and equitable outcome for all children.”

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