Sinn Féin education spokesperson Pat Sheehan has said there is an urgent need for an overhaul in the Department of Education’s approach to the use of restraint and seclusion in our schools.
The West Belfast MLA said:
”Today at the Education Committee we heard harrowing testimony from representatives of the Parent Action group in relation to the misuse of restrictive and seclusionary practices on children within our schools.
”It is disturbing that there is still no legal obligation on schools to report incidents where children have been physically restrained or placed in seclusion.
”Current guidance in relation to restraint and seclusion only deals with the issue in terms of maintaining good order and discipline in the school setting and is completely unreflective of the reality of the additional needs of some children.
”There is a need for new and robust guidance to be urgently developed and for it to be underpinned by legislation. We also need to see the Education Minister bring forward a framework to ensure effective oversight and accountability when it comes to dealing with these incidents.
”It’s also important that our school staff are supported with effective training so that they are equipped with the necessary skills to respond to challenging situations with more therapeutic responses.”