The ‘safe spaces’ that are anything but

‘Chill-out room’, ‘quiet room’, ‘calming room’ – the euphemistic language used in the seclusion and restraint of children is masking often illegal practices and unrecorded interventions in schools. Emma Seith finds a ‘chaotic’ system of safeguarding checks in need of ‘urgent’ reform

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In just 808 words, a narrator – known simply as “M, a young person” – tells a horrific story about their brother that’s one of the most heartbreaking things you are likely to read this year. But this is no Stephen King story – it is the opening section of a formal report about children’s experience of the education system in Scotland.

We are presented with the brother in the foetal position, defending himself from a “leader” who causes him trauma “time and again”. We read of “two enormous figures looming over a cowering child” who is “sobbing uncontrollably”; of a boy who communicates by ...

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