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Tue, 2 June 2020

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Schools targeted with inquiry into use of restraint

Equality and Human Rights Commission

2 min read Member content

A formal inquiry has been launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into how schools are monitoring and recording their use of restraint, following widespread concerns about its use and the lack of data available.


Restraint can be distressing and can have a significant impact on anyone, but it can particularly affect children. To understand if restraint and seclusion methods are used appropriately in schools it is important to monitor and record its use. However, despite being encouraged to, there is no legal duty on schools to record incidents, resulting in a lack of transparency and almost no official data on how and when it is being used.

The EHRC’s inquiry will find out whether primary, secondary and special needs schools in England and Wales are collecting information and if so, whether they are using it to inform any improvements to how they use restraint.   

Meaningful data could provide schools with the insight they need to understand why restraint is being used, what type is being used, the pupils who are affected and how schools can improve their practices in future to protect the rights of the children and young people in their care.

The EHRC will also look to other institutions which are required to collect and use data, such as child and adolescent mental health units and young offender institutions, to explore if there is any learning from their approaches which could be applied to schools.

David Isaac, Equality and Human Rights Commission Chair, said: “Being restrained in any way, shape or form is always traumatic. But the use of these techniques on children comes with additional risks and undermines learning in school. 

“Our schools must be safe places for all children and restraint should only be used as a last resort for the safety of any child and those around them. There are specific safeguards in place in the youth justice system and mental health units, but these are not mirrored in the education system.

“It is essential that we find out whether appropriate action is being taken to understand how restraint is being used so that all children are protected, treated with dignity and able to reach their full potential through education.”

The inquiry hopes to conclude within six months, in which time it will deliver a series of recommendations for schools, the UK Government’s Department for Education and Welsh Government.

The full terms of reference for the inquiry will be available on the EHRC website.

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