Physical Intervention Working Group - Guidance sub group minutes: August 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 26 August 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Scottish Government
  • Angus Council
  • Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland
  • EIS
  • AHDS
  • BILD
  • CALM Training

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Scottish Government officials welcomed everyone to the call, and attendees introduced themselves.

Purpose of sub group

Scottish Government officials confirmed to members of the purpose of the sub group, which is to oversee the development of the guidance by contributing and agreeing content. The working group, which is responsible for the entire programme of work, will be kept updated on progress. Once agreed by both the sub group and the working group, the draft guidance would then be submitted to Scottish Ministers before the launch of the public consultation. Whilst further meetings will be held on a virtual basis, the majority of the communication will be via email.

Draft guidance

An outline draft was issued prior to the call, and members were asked for their initial feedback. Key points noted:

  • overall the structure was well received, and outlines  of helpful sections had been added to the draft
  • protected characteristics –consideration could be given to  including them in the recording and monitoring process to gain a picture of how many children and young people with protected characteristics are being restrained or secluded
  • length of the document – the group highlighted the importance of keeping the guidance as succinct and as accessible as possible to enable ease of use. This needs to be balanced against the need for comprehensive guidance on this topic. This will be keep under review as the guidance develops. Consideration will also be given to how best to communicate the key messages and good practice processes exemplified in the guidance to school staff, children and young people and their parents
  • deprivation of liberty – the group discussed whether legal terminology should be included in the definitions used in the guidance. Clarity on the legal position around the use of physical interventions is a key aim of the guidance. However, this detail needs to be presented in a clear and accessible way. Consideration will be given to how these are presented    
  • the guidance should clarify the distinction between unlawful use of restraint or seclusion, which may be due to lack of awareness or established local policies and the potential of illegal use, which would be a criminal offence
  • the outline section on the rights of children and young people is helpful, however this should be set in the context of wider human rights
  • it was noted from several members that the draft guidance should have a greater emphasis on prevention to address root causes of distress as de-escalation is a reactive technique. Nurture approaches are a key aspect of preventative approaches
  • inter-agency protocols, clarity on roles, responsibilities and the support available for staff should be included in the draft guidance
  • the group considered the term ‘triggers’ and noted that it should be removed from the preventative section as it would form part of a reactive approach
  • trauma should not be assumed. The guidance should acknowledge that restraint and seclusion will have an impact, which may lead to trauma
  • last resort – this term was discussed, as it can be easily misinterpreted. The term, ‘least restrictive alternative’ was considered helpful in this regard
  • the guidance should be clear about what is unacceptable practice. Consideration should be given to the clearest way of presenting this
  • sections on workforce development and training should be given greater prominence as well as wider information on available training resources. Important to recognise the impact of compassion fatigue on staff
  • the outline section on de-briefing and lessons learned was considered helpful. Advice on rebuilding trust, respect and repairing relationships with children and young people after incidents would be helpful
  • the draft guidance should also consider emergency situations, and acknowledge that these can and do happen
  • ‘holding safely’ includes a number of checklist and reporting templates, which could be converted to be used for support plans or the identification of training needs
  • members also had a number of specific comments on the document, which they will submit to Scottish Government officials for further consideration

All group members agreed to send any further specific comments on the draft guidance to the Scottish Government. These will be incorporated into a master copy and recirculated to the group for specific input and content suggestions, which will be discussed at the next meeting. 


  • Scottish Government/all

Young people engagement

Scottish Government officials introduced the outline proposal and the potential approaches. After discussion it was agreed that:

  • all group members would consider and share any relevant examples of children and young people’s lived experiences of restraint and seclusion in education, which would be considered by the sub group for use or reference within the guidance. Those gathered in recent years were considered most relevant
  • the Scottish Government would approach the Scottish Youth Parliament (who are represented on the working group), Children in Scotland’s Young Inclusion Ambassadors, Enable Scotland and the Children’s Parliament to help put a series of questions together
  • any approach to children and young people on this topic has to be handled sensitively and in an ethical manner. The Scottish Government will ensure this is a precondition to any survey work being undertaken

Specific suggestions for section of the guidance that children and young people’s views would be helpful are: 

  • rebuilding trust, respect and repairing relationships after an incident
  • physical environment
  • minimising negative impacts of restraint and seclusion

The Scottish Government will keep the sub group informed of developments with this work.


  • Scottish Government/all

Other business/next meeting

Tuesday 29 September, 13:00-14.30. Dial in details/papers will be sent out ahead of the meeting.

Back to top