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National inquiry into the use of restraint in schools

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), an independent body that promotes equality and human rights in Great Britain, have just launched an inquiry into the use of restraint in schools.

Currently the law permits schools to use reasonable force, which includes physical restraint, when it is reasonable to do so:

  1. Prevent a pupil committing any offence,
  2. Prevent a pupil from causing personal injury to, or damage to the property of, any person (including the pupil himself), or
  3. To maintain good order

There is no legal duty on schools to record or report when they restrain pupils. There is also no duty to tell parents or caregivers when their child has been restrained. This also means there is very limited data on how often restraint is being used in schools and the reasons behind it.

The EHRC's inquiry will look into whether primary, secondary and special needs schools in England and Wales are collecting information on the use of restraint. It will also look at how other institutions collect and use data, such as child and adolescent mental health units and young offender institutions, to explore if there is any learning from those approaches which could be applied to schools.

We've previously written about the limitations of guidance on reducing the need for restrictive intervention in special schools so are pleased to hear the announcement of this inquiry. You can find out more about the inquiry here.

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