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(UK) Call for laws on restraint/seclusion; currently NI has none

June 24, 2021, BBC: School restraint: Union concern over 'outdated' laws

A headteachers' union has said it is "deeply concerned" at the lack of new laws on the restraint or seclusion of pupils in schools. The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said current laws and guidance were "out of date". Earlier this year, the celebrity and businesswoman Paris Hilton backed parents campaigning to toughen the law. Some are campaigning for "Harry's Law" which would compel schools to report when they restrain or isolate a pupil. The children's commissioner, Koulla Yiasouma, has also previously called for laws on when a child can be restrained or isolated in school to be strengthened. No NI seclusion definition Currently, schools in Northern Ireland are not legally obliged to record when they restrain a child.... The Department of Education (DE) has issued interim guidance on restraint and seclusion in schools while the existing 20-year-old legislation is reviewed. But in a position paper sent to the department, the NAHT said that the interim guidance "does not meet the pressing need for reform". 'NI lags significantly behind'… "It is unacceptable that children in NI are not afforded the same protections as their peers and that families are not provided with a consistent approach, as they would be in neighbouring jurisdictions," it said. "We are particularly concerned about the lack of guidance for pupils who may have special educational needs and/or complex and challenging medical and behavioural needs." The NAHT is calling for all school staff to get training in other ways to manage pupils' behaviour as part of any reform to the laws and guidance. • School seclusion 'could have damaging effects' The union also said that if pupils were removed from class to a separate room this should be to provide them with support rather than being used "to isolate or seclude". The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman has also called for updated laws on when restraint and seclusion can be used….


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