Survey Into Restraint And Seclusion On SEND Children In UK Schools
In the UK there is no legal requirement for schools to tell you if they have restrained and/or secluded your child whilst at school. And children with SEND are disproportionately affected by the use of restraint and seclusion in school, as a response to distressed or "challenging" behaviour.
Call for participation
Now ICARS (International Coalition against Restraint and Seclusion) and PABSS (Positive and Active Behaviour Support Scotland) are asking parents whose SEND children or young people have experienced restraint and/or seclusion at school to fill out the following survey.
They are hoping to use this as evidence of human rights violations and highlight the lived experience of children and young people in schools. Even if your child is now a young adult and has moved from that particular school please fill out your lived experience of what happened to your child, and help us bring these schools to account. Any answers you provide will be completely anonymised.
Please also share the survey with any others you know whose children may have been affected. The more evidence we can collect, the more likely we are to create change.
Confirming your suspicions?
Do you at all suspect your child is being restrained and/or secluded in school, or does your instinct tell you something isn’t quite right? Ask school for a copy of any incident forms, your child’s personal behaviour plan, their risk assessment or, if you have serious concerns, ask for your child’s school records via a Subject Access Request*.
Restraint and seclusion is far more common than you might imagine. Too many children are being left with physical and mental health problems, my son included.
What is restraint?
Physical interventions are strategies that involve direct physical contact between the child and the adult and they restrict or limit a child’s movement or freedom.
Physical restraint can be as little as holding a child’s hand or arm and moving them around school without their permission and against their will, or simply holding a child’s hand down to prevent it from moving - this is still restraint. Invariably, over time this can escalate into much more physical restraints (t-wraps, prone restraint e.g. pinning a child to the ground) with the risk of severe injury to the child and in rare occasions death.
Mechanical restraint - the use of materials or equipment in order to restrict a child’s movement. This can include handcuffs, restraint belts, spit hoods etc. or even pushing a child’s chair right up to a table so they cannot get up out of it.
Chemical restraint - the use of medication in response to a child’s behaviour. Does your school insist your child should be medicated with a drug which calms or sedates them before arriving at school each day in order to calm their behaviour? This is also a form of restraint.
What is seclusion?
Seclusion refers to isolating or confining a person, away from other people and preventing them from leaving the area. For example, if you know your child goes to a ‘blue room’ (also known as a seclusion room) to ‘chill’ (calm down) ask how long your child spends in there. Is it daily? is there anyone in there with them? Ask to view it, how big is it (usually these rooms are tiny, darkened and windowless), does it have a lock on the outside and why. Ask yourself if you would be happy to stay in there for x amount of time? More importantly ask your child if they like being in there? Even if the door isn’t shut or locked, if the staff make your child stay there for a fixed period of time without allowing them to leave and rejoin their peers - this is isolation and seclusion. Most schools will not tell you that this room exists and they can exclude your child in it everyday without notifying you.
This survey will take minutes of your life, but you will have taken the first steps in helping to stop this horrific practice on our vulnerable SEND children. Thank you.
If you wish to learn more about my own lived experience of having a child who has been restrained and secluded and then unjustly removed from a school then follow my series of articles in the Yorkshire Times throughout the next few weeks.
With thanks to The Challenging Behaviour Foundation for the descriptions of the restrictive interventions.
*Subject Access Request - ‘Asking for a copy of your child’s school record’ https://www.ipsea.org.uk/asking-for-a-copy-of-a-childs-school-record-model-letter-18
SEND – children with special educational needs and disabilities
ICARS – International Coalition against Restraint and Seclusion
PABSS – Positive and Active Behaviour Support Scotland
If you need to speak to other parents about what is or you suspect is happening to your SEND child please join the SHAME(UK) Facebook page