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Calls for focus to be placed upon staff training and therapeutic-based positive behaviour strategies
Assembly members in Ireland have called for urgent new guidance to be developed on the restraint and seclusion of school children - particularly those with additional needs.
The motion, drawn up by education committee chairman Chris Lyttle of the Alliance Party, would make it compulsory for schools to report to parents and the Education Authority when they restrained or isolated a pupil.
It also calls for Education Minister Peter Weir and his department to urgently develop "up-to-date statutory guidance on therapeutic-based, non-aversive, positive behaviour strategies".
There have also been calls for funded mandatory training for all staff working directly with young people, statutory guidance on restraint definitions as well as last resort definitions, and human rights-based guidance in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The motion follows evidence heard earlier this year from the mother, Deirdre Shakespeare, from Harry's Law campaign, who said she only realised how much her son was being restrained at his special school after seeing a photo diary.
It also highlighted concern at the lack of statutory guidance from the Department of Education on the use of restrictive intervention, particularly on those with physical or learning disabilities.
Deidre shares such a powerful story about her son Harry’s experience and has done an amazing job in supporting him and championing change.
There is a really positive initiative being embraced across the UK and Ireland with the Restraint Reduction Network (RRN), but we are yet to see Department for Education support for this.
The agenda seems to swing between zero tolerance of ‘assaults’ on teachers and respecting the human rights of our children. The reality is that through better understanding and meeting the needs of children we will reduce behaviours of concern, restrictive practices and assaults on teachers. This is the focus of Maybo and the programmes we have created for schools and children’s services.