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NAHT Northern Ireland

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NAHT Northern Ireland represents principals and vice-principals in around two-thirds of 1,150 schools in Northern Ireland. NAHT Northern Ireland provide advice, training and support for its members on a range of issues faced by senior leaders in schools. Along with our colleagues in England and Wales, we are there to defend and extend the rights of school leaders.  

NAHT NI is democratic and member-led, and supported by its Belfast-based team of staff alongside their colleagues based in both Wales and England.

NAHT Northern Ireland
Carnmoney House
Edgewater Office Park

Belfast
BT3 9JQ

nahtni@naht.org.uk
02890 776633 

NAHT(NI) calls for urgent reform to the use of restraint and seclusion techniques in education settings

Today (Thursday 24 June), school leaders’ union NAHT(NI) sent the Department of Education and the Education Authority a set of action points alongside their call for urgent legislative reform and training for schools concerning the use of strategies for intervention if a pupil is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else.

Commenting after publication of the NAHT(NI) Position Paper on the Use of Restrictive Practice in Schools, Helena Macormac, NAHT(NI) said: “NAHT(NI) is deeply concerned at the lack of statutory guidance and appropriate training from government. We are particularly concerned about the lack of guidance for pupils who may have special educational needs and, or, complex and challenging medical and behavioural needs.

“Schools have many excellent examples of highly effective best practice techniques to calm situations to ensure that restrictive practice is not used. However, in order to ensure consistency, and that schools receive all necessary resources and training to meet pupil need, it is vital that statutory guidance is provided.

“The Department must provide a framework for change urgently. The current legislation is out of date. The interim guidance provided by DE does not meet the pressing need for reform. It’s unacceptable that children in Northern Ireland are not afforded the same protections and constancy of approach as their peers on neighbouring jurisdictions.”

“It’s vital that pupils’ best interests are the focus of consideration. School staff and school leaders are passionate professionals who want to ensure that all children can access the best educational experience that meets their needs in a safe, nurturing and inclusive way.”

NAHT(NI) president, Graham Gault said: “It’s not possible or helpful to consider this as a stand-alone challenge for which schools are solely responsible. Schools and young people are facing underfunding to education as well as the underfunding of health and social care services on which they desperately rely for support. It is essential that the NI Executive alongside DE, EA and DoH ensure that schools and pupils can access all the support, funding and training that they require in order that pupils get the individual support they need.”

The points that NAHT(NI) is calling for include:

·  The NI Executive to bring urgent legislative reform and the publication of accompanying standardised guidance for schools. This guidance must be developed in partnership with parents, carers, schools, education unions and all appropriate stakeholders. It must include clear legal definitions.

·  All school staff have access to a fully funded training programme.

·  Schools to be fully resourced for their development of individual and whole school plans that include risk assessments and strategies.

·  Review the current funding arrangements for sufficient classroom assistants posts designated hours

·  All schools to have access to multi-disciplinary experts to assist with considering the individual needs of every pupil and tailoring appropriate therapeutic approaches, such as sensory processing through occupational therapy and communication through speech and language.

·  Schools are provided with standardised recording guidance so that any intervention is appropriately and consistently recorded.

First published 24 June 2021