Physical intervention in schools: draft guidance

We are consulting on this draft schools guidance "Included, engaged and involved part 3" which takes a relationship and rights based approach to physical intervention in Scottish schools.

Post incident support and learning review

88. Following the use of any form of restraint, post-incident support should be offered immediately to the child or young person. Support should then be followed by a learning review, conducted on another day, but within a prompt timescale. This process, which can also be followed after any instance of distressed behaviour, is outlined below.

Post incident support

  • This is the support that is immediately offered to the child or young person and staff members involved and forms the beginning of a restorative approach[40]. Its purpose is to ensure physical and emotional safety of the child or young person and all involved, provide emotional and physical wellbeing support and to assess and respond appropriately to any harm caused. The immediate steps outlined in the recording, monitoring and reporting section should also be followed.

Post incident learning review

  • This is a factual review, which takes place at a later date (sometimes referred to as a debrief). It is recommended that this take place as close to the time of the incident as possible taking full cognisance of the emotional wellbeing of the child or young person and all those involved in the incident. Its purpose is to examine the factors that led to the restraint being used, decisions taken, establish a time line and agree actions to support the prevention of future incidents of distressed behaviour. It will also examine ways to minimise the impact of the form of restraint used and facilitate less restrictive interventions in future (see Annex G). The views of the child or young person and staff members involved should be sought, with appropriate support to participate provided. It should be noted, however that this may not be possible or desirable in every instance, for example, where a child or young person's stage of cognitive development would prevent them participating in a reflective exercise. Any agreed actions or changes in approach should be recorded in the appropriate support plan for the child or young person. It is important that children and young people and staff have the time and opportunity to engage in this kind of reflective practice.

89. Where distressed behaviour is frequently occurring, staff leading the post-incident learning review may benefit from the local authority Educational Psychology team or other agencies to support a functional behavioural analysis as part of this process. Education providers should have an overview of all such occurrences and ensure appropriate support and challenge with regards to helping reduce the frequency and intensity of the distress occurring. The purpose is to gain a broader understanding of why the distressed behaviour is presenting itself and what its function is. Each behaviour requires a different intervention. As such, simply analysing the immediate events may not be enough to lead to a full understanding of the distressed behaviour and reduce its frequency and intensity over time. A functional analysis generally follows a three stage process:

  • What happened before?
  • What happened, what did we see?
  • What happened afterwards?

90. This process is not about apportioning blame or finding fault with practice, but about what can be adapted or changed to reduce the likelihood of the distressed behaviour occurring in future. Any functional analysis should take place within the context of a broader assessment of wellbeing.

91. Due to the sensitivities involved in conducting post-incident learning reviews with a child or young person following a restraint, it is recommended that a member of school staff trained in this area undertake them. Education providers should provide guidance and support in this area, ideally with involvement from Educational Psychology. However, lack of trained staff or available support from specialist staff should not prevent the post-incident learning review from taking place.

92. Parents or carers should be given the opportunity to discuss the incident, response and preventative actions before the post-incident learning review is completed. Agreed outcomes from the post-incident learning review should be shared with the child or young person involved, school staff and parents or carers. However, it should be noted that it can be difficult to ascertain the function of a behaviour from one review and that recognising patterns over time is most likely to lead to a better understanding and therefore more appropriate interventions.

93. Where there is disagreement between children and young people, their parents or carers and the school on the agreed outcomes and support identified in the post-incident learning review, every effort should be made to resolve these at as local a level as possible. However, where concerns around support remain, parents or carers may, where relevant, have access to the dispute resolution mechanisms under the 2004 Act (including advocacy and representation through the Let's Talk: ASN[41] service) and the education provider's complaints procedure. If a parent or carer believes that their child has been mistreated, regardless of whether there has been a post-incident learning review, this must be referred to child protection processes.

94. Where relevant, the use of restraint should prompt an assessment of the child or young person's additional support needs under the 2004 Act.



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