The Children and Young People’s Commissioner has launched an investigation into restraint and seclusion in schools following an eight-year campaign by the Tayside mother of a disabled child.
Beth Morrison, from Monifieth, began her campaign in 2010 when her son came home from Dundee’s Kingspark School with bruises and several other parents claimed their children had been hurt in incidents there.
Her campaign to end restraint and seclusion included a petition to Holyrood, which won government backing and support from a number of children’s charities.
The Commissioner’s investigation will be focussed specifically on “the adequacy of local authority policies and procedures around recording of incidents” and will be conducted throughout Scotland.
In an official statement, the Commissioner explained: “The Commissioner’s office has received a number of inquiries from parents of children with additional support needs and/or disabilities.
“We are aware of concerns that have been expressed about the treatment of those children in school and in particular about the use of restraint and seclusion techniques as a response to behaviour management without, it seems, considering adequately what may lie behind that behaviour or the individual child’s needs.
“A petition was lodged in February 2015 at the Scottish Parliament, calling for the Scottish Government to issue national guidance to resolve these concerns."
“In response, the Scottish Government reviewed its guidance on school exclusion to include content on restraint and seclusion."
“The Commissioner’s office retains a number of outstanding concerns about the guidance.
“In particular, the fact that it is focused on behaviour management and exclusions risks giving the impression that the problem is the child’s behaviour rather than an unmet or unrecognised need.”
Beth said she was “delighted” with the news that an investigation will take place.
She added: “This all started in Dundee with me and a small group of parents."
“We didn’t feel that our voices were being heard. A lot of doors were closed on us, but we kept knocking and we took the campaign nation-wide."
“I was a keynote speaker at a conference in Birmingham and I’ll be going to Wales soon to give another talk."
“This issue affects children all over the UK — they are still being hurt and I’m hearing from so many families."
“I’ve been campaigning for a long time and I’ll keep going until I see a real difference being made.”