Education Committee Calls on Minister to Urgently Develop New Guidance on Restraint and Seclusion

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 23 May 2021

Reference: 04/20/21

The Assembly’s Education Committee has today brought forward a motion calling on the Minister of Education and his Department to urgently develop new guidance on the restraint and seclusion of children and young people, particularly those with additional support needs.

Speaking after today’s motion, the Committee Chairperson, Chris Lyttle MLA said: “It has been over two years since the British Association of Social Workers, Northern Ireland issued a policy statement expressing its concern at the lack of standardised Departmental guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion with children and young people with additional support needs. This statement echoed similar reports from across the United Kingdom, however unlike our counterparts in other regions, our Department of Education has yet to develop new guidance on this important issue.

“The current situation is quite simply not good enough. The existing guidance is over 20 years old and does not reflect present-day protections for children’s rights nor the inclusion of alternative practices that have been adopted successfully by many other jurisdictions.

Mr Lyttle continued: “The Minister and his Department must prioritise the development of comprehensive guidance and they must take a fully holistic approach by working in partnership with parents and other stakeholder organisations to deliver this.

“We also fully recognise the difficulties faced by teachers and school staff in dealing with these situations. It is crucial that they are provided with a clear direction by the Department and with the time and appropriate training to acquire the necessary understanding and skills to deal effectively and sensitively with children and young people with additional support needs.”

Mr Lyttle concluded: “While examining this issue in recent months, we have heard many harrowing and indeed devastating stories from the parents of children and young people who have been subjected to current restraint and seclusion practices. The life, happiness and potential of their children is at the very heart of this issue and we commend them for their determination and bravery in telling their stories. As public representatives we must do everything possible to ensure that other children do not suffer the same experiences in the future.”



Notes to Editor:

The full Committee Motion on Restrictive Intervention and Seclusion of Children and Young People with Additional Support Needs: can be found on the Assembly Order Paper.


Committee Membership:

Chris Lyttle MLA (Chairperson)

Pat Sheehan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)

Maurice Bradley MLA

Nicola Brogan MLA

Robbie Butler MLA

William Humphrey MLA

Daniel McCrossan MLA

Justin McNulty MLA

Robin Newton MLA


Media enquiries to:

Sinead Murphy
Deputy Communications Officer
Northern Ireland Assembly
Phone: 028 90525938

Mobile: 0789 9864368

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