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Union calls for teacher guidance on restraining pupils

Teachers need urgent guidance on restraining pupils as they put themselves under "considerable risk" of physical assault, a union has said.

by moneylab

Teaching union NASUWT will highlight the growing prevalence of violence in classrooms at their national conference in Harrogate.

The union has accused the Scottish government of a “complete abdication of responsibility” over the lack of a national strategy on the physical restraint of pupils during classroom violence.

The Scottish government said restraint should be used as a “last resort” but a pledge to publish more concrete guidance by the end of 2023 was not met.

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NASUWT general secretary, Dr Patrick Roach, said teachers are putting their safety and careers on the line without the required training or advice.

He said: “Every day teachers across Scotland are faced with situations where they feel they have to intervene to physically restrain a pupil to try to prevent them hurting themselves or others.

“This much-needed guidance has been in the pipeline since 2020, yet four years later still nothing has materialised while teachers are experiencing increasing levels of serious disruption and violence in their schools

“The Scottish government must fulfil its responsibility to teachers and commit to working with us to get this guidance published as soon as possible.”

Draft guidance published by ministers in 2020 said restraint should only be used for the “shortest time necessary and in the safest, least restrictive manner” and not form any part of behaviour or education plans.

At this weekend’s NASUWT conference, Scottish teachers will argue their safety and careers are on the line, with the Scottish government failing to meet a pledge to publish more concrete guidance by the end of 2023.

Statistics published from a union survey in 2023 showed four in ten Scottish teachers reported experiencing violence or physical abuse in the previous 12 months, with 93% saying the issue had increased.

A Scottish government spokesperson said restraint and seclusion in schools should only be used as a last resort to prevent the risk of harm, and existing guidance from 2017 remained in place.

“We consulted on a draft of our new human-rights based guidance in 2022. We are committed to publishing final guidance as soon as possible, with the physical intervention working group being reconvened to make amendments to the guidance ahead of its publication,” they said.

“In addition, the Scottish government is currently exploring options for strengthening the legal framework in this area, including the option of statutory guidance.”

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