The Department of Education has published interim guidance in relation to the use of restraint and seclusion.
Settings are being reminded that reasonable force/restraint should only be used as a measure of last resort. All instances should be recorded, parents/carers should be informed and follow up support provided to the pupils and staff involved.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said:
“We are currently undertaking a review of the use of restraint and seclusion in educational settings and have established a Working Group, supported by a Reference Group, to take forward the work.
“The overarching principle is that the best interests of the child should guide all decisions taken by staff in relation to children in their care."
The issue of seclusion, including Deprivation of Liberty, is also being considered as part of the Department’s review. Children should never be locked in a room or left unaccompanied and must be able to leave when they want to.
Any changes will be subject to Ministerial approval and it is expected that new guidance will issue later this year.
Notes to editors:
- The Circular is available on the Department’s website - Interim Guidance on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion in Educational Settings
- The Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998, Article 4, outlines the powers a member of school staff can use in restraining pupils. However, schools are reminded that reasonable force/restraint should only be used as a measure of last resort.
- The interim guidance does not seek to define seclusion or indicate what forms of seclusion, if any, are permissible, and in what circumstances. The issue of seclusion, including Deprivation of Liberty, is being considered as part of the Department’s review.
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