DfE may call for less pupil restraint in all schools

DfE publishes guidance for special schools and seeks views on whether similar advice is needed for mainstream schools

The DfE is asking whether mainstream schools should be given guidance about pupil restraint.

The Department for Education could issue guidance for mainstream schools about reducing “restraint and restrictive intervention”.

It comes on the day the department and the Department of Health and Social Care published guidance about the use of such methods in special schools and health and social care settings.

That document, which follows a consultation that closed in January 2018, aims to help such organisations “adopt a preventative approach to supporting children and young people whose behaviour challenges” as a result of learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions or mental health difficulties.


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This morning, the DfE launched a consultation about whether there is a need for similar guidance for mainstream schools, mainstream post-16 settings and alternative provision.

It will also seek views on whether “guidance should apply to a wider cohort of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities”.

The consultation comes against a backdrop of concerns from some parents of children with SEND about the use of restraint techniques in schools.

In February, three families set up a crowdfunding appeal to pay for legal advice on making a legal challenge against the government over what they say are a lack of adequate safeguards on the use of restraint in schools.

The families sought advice from law firm Irwin Mitchell.

One parent told the legal team that her daughter, who had self-harmed, had been restrained 81 times during a year. Another parent said her son was physically restrained 30 times in three months, resulting in bruising on his ankles, face and back. Both children had special educational needs.

At the time, Polly Sweeney, an education and human rights lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The first-hand accounts we have had heard from parents about some of the measures used to restrain their children are extremely worrying. This is why we are now looking into these concerns, to challenge the lack of a clear legal framework for restraint and seclusion in schools.”

The consultation closes at 6pm on 17 October.

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