From IPSEA’s case work, we know that children and young people with SEND are at risk of being subjected to restraint or restrictive intervention, whether in mainstream or specialist settings. Restraint means physically restraining someone, regardless of whether this is for the safety of that person or others. Restrictive intervention could include withdrawal (removing a child or young person involuntarily from a situation) or seclusion (supervised confinement and isolation of a child or young person).

 The government has issued guidance for specialist settings on reducing the need for restraint and restrictive intervention, following a consultation which IPSEA fed into earlier in the year. IPSEA highlighted concerns about the lack of guidance for mainstream settings, despite the fact we know children in mainstream schools and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) are being restrained and subjected to isolation or seclusion.

 In response to these calls for better guidance, the Department for Education is now consulting on whether to introduce guidance on restraint for mainstream settings and alternative provision.

 IPSEA’s key recommendations to the consultation are:

  • We know that restraint and restrictive intervention is happening in mainstream settings, so there needs to be guidance for mainstream settings and PRUs.
  • The wide definition of restraint used in the existing guidance (which currently only applies to specialist settings) also needs to clearly apply to mainstream settings. Mainstream settings are currently likely to refer only to the guidance on the use of reasonable force, which may be relevant where physical restraint is used. However, children and young people whose behaviour challenges are often subject to other kinds of restrictive intervention, such as withdrawal and seclusion.
  • One proposal is for any new guidance to apply to children and young people with learning difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorder and mental health difficulties. IPSEA argues it should apply to a wider cohort of children and young people, to prevent those without a recognised diagnosis being excluded from the scope of such guidance.

 You can read IPSEA’s full response here.