Mum’s delight over campaign to end restraint of disabled kids in schools
A seven-year campaign by a Tayside mum to end physical restraint and isolation of disabled children in schools has won Scottish Government backing.
Beth Morrison had lobbied ministers to set new guidelines for schools after several parents claimed pupils at Kingspark School in Dundee had been hurt in incidents at the facility.
Now, a new Scottish Government report on school exclusions has issued fresh guidelines on the issue — with Beth’s help.
She told the Tele that she was delighted with what she had achieved.
She said: “I am very pleased with what we have achieved and look forward to continuing the work we have done.
“I was always very clear that I represented the most vulnerable children in Scotland. As this guidance is for all children, essentially, we have achieved something we didn’t set out to do.
“I see this very much as a first step. Deputy First Minister John Swinney listened to our concerns and gave a commitment to revisit this issue in 2019.
“I will be watching and continuing to collect case studies and I want all of the windowless, unheated bare box rooms and cupboards used for children with additional support needs gone, as Mr Swinney has said they are wholly and utterly inappropriate to be utilised.
“We must make sure that children with disabilities are not treated as lesser human beings.”
She added: “I still think we can do more. My good friend and colleague Kate Sanger and I have accepted the Scottish Government’s invitation to engage further with their 32 key stakeholders on the Additional Support for Learning Committee in August where we will be presenting a bespoke ‘communication passport’. We are about to launch a brand new charity called Positive and Active Behaviour Support Scotland.
“We hope to be able to give advice, training and support in managing challenging behaviour to families and schools if needs be.
“We will run workshops to produce personal communication passports for children with additional needs which will include a positive behaviour support plan.
“This will also help school staff understand the child’s condition and how this affects their communication and behaviour.
“This is in line with the Scottish Governments education policy on promoting positive relationships for better behaviour in schools.”
In his foreword for the report, Mr Swinney, cabinet secretary for education and skills, said: “There can be no greater responsibility than working to improve the life chances of all our children and young people.
“This refreshed guidance gives a stronger focus on approaches that can be used to prevent the need for exclusion.”