Ruth Maguire MSP, gave her backing in Parliament to greater protection for children against restraint and seclusion in Scottish schools.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate, the MSP for Cunninghame South made reference to the “In Safe Hands?” campaign from learning disability charity, ENABLE Scotland and echoed the key asks from their campaign.

Ms Maguire said: “All behaviour is a form of communication. For many children, particularly those with additional support for learning needs, it can be really tough to communicate how they are feeling verbally. A child’s challenging or inappropriate behaviour is a sign that he or she is upset and that something is not right.

“I support ENABLEScotland’s asks from the “in safe hands?” campaign. It is asking for stronger, dedicated guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools; the roll-out of positive support strategies in all schools through skilled staff, with a minimum standard that every school has at least two trained staff on site at all times; the introduction of a duty of candour on restraint and seclusion for all schools – it is not only right but helpful that parents understand how their child’s school day has been, so that they can have a happy home time; and a strengthening of transparency and accountability, with powers of oversight resting with the appropriate body.

“It is important to acknowledge, as ENABLE does in its briefing, the positive movement that has been made on the issuing of guidance. I support Enable’s ask that the further recommendations be progressed. It is important that the guidance translates into improved practice that makes a difference for children.

“Our Parliament will soon incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UNCRC makes it clear that restraint and seclusion might violate a child’s rights, including their right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, their right to respect for bodily integrity and their right not to be deprived of their liberty

“As a Parliament, we can communicate clearly by our actions that children in Scotland are in safe hands. Let us therefore do what ENABLE asks of us and communicate clearly that children’s rights to be safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included are not only upheld but promoted.”

ENABLE Scotland said: “ENABLE Scotland’s ‘In Safe Hands?’  campaign started as a grass roots reaction to experiences of our members and their families in relation to the use restraint and seclusion in the classroom.  As part of our mission to create an equal society for everyone with a learning disability, we recognised the immediate importance of raising awareness and implementing real change to protect the basic human rights of children with learning disabilities. 

“Our campaign identifies some significant gaps in terms of guidance, training and accountability, and whilst we welcome the Scottish Government’s early steps to develop better guidance, we look forward to further change in terms of training for staff and identifying a body to have responsibility for upholding the rights of vulnerable children in the classroom. We would like to thank both the brave families who spoke out about their experiences and Ruth Maguire MSP for backing the campaign and helping create real positive change for children across Scotland.”

Full information about the “In Safe Hands?” campaign can be found at: https://www.enable.org.uk/insafehands/