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Use of face-down prone restraint set to be banned in Scottish schools

The guidance covers all types of schools (Ben Birchall/PA)
The guidance covers all types of schools (Ben Birchall/PA)

Restraining pupils in a face-down prone position is set to be banned under new guidance on the use of physical intervention in schools.

The Scottish Government draft guidance also covers the use of seclusions – isolating a child away from other children.

It says this practice should only be used in emergencies. Other types of restraints which cause pain have also been banned.

A consultation on the new guidance document has been launched and will run until October 25.

Integrated Education Bill
Holds which cause pain have been banned (David Jones/PA)

The guidance covers state, private and independent schools and says physical restraint and seclusions should only be a last resort.

It says: “Certain types of physical restraint carry elevated risks such as prone, supine, basket holds, neck holds and techniques that involve the use of pain.

“These should not be used as they pose a higher risk of injury to children and young people.

“Holding children and young people in positions where their torso is heavily bent forward (hyperflexion) and/or their joints are taken to the end of their range of movement (locked out) must also be avoided.”

While education guidance published in 2017 set out rules for physical intervention and seclusion, it did not mention methods like prone restraint specifically.

Exam results in Scotland
Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said restraints should only be a last resort (Jane Barlow/PA)

Launching the consultation, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The draft guidance makes it clear that restraint and seclusion should only ever be used as a last resort and when in the best interests of the child or young person.

“The guidance has been developed carefully, over time, with extensive input from over 30 working group members.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in this important area, including children and young people themselves, to give their views by taking part in the consultation.

“In addition to the publication of non-statutory guidance, we will explore options to strengthen the legal framework in this area, including placing the guidance on a statutory basis.”

Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, called for the guidance to be placed into law.

He said: “All children deserve protection from all forms of abuse or harm, in all aspects of their lives. Children have the right to feel safe.

“They have a right to dignity, to bodily integrity, and to be protected from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“Along with other members of the Scottish Government’s working group, I continue to call for the national guidance to be put on a statutory footing as a matter of urgency.

“It must be based on a consistent legal framework that applies to all situations where children are in the care of the state, including schools, residential and secure care, and mental health provision.

“We have moved well beyond a position where this can be just an option for future consideration.”