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

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 29 September 2020.

Attendees and apologies

Representatives from the following organisations attended:

  • Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Education Scotland
  • Positive and Active Behaviour Support Scotland (PABSS)
  • CALM Training
  • First-tier Tribunal, Health and Education Chamber
  • Fife Council
  • South Lanarkshire Council
  • Association of Principal Education Psychologists
  • Educational Institute of Scotland
  • The Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland
  • British Institute of Learning Disabilities
  • Enable Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Scottish Government officials welcomed everyone to the call, and attendees introduced themselves. Apologies were noted from the organisation below.

  • Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland

Note of previous meeting (26 August)

No comments or amendments were suggested. The note will be published on the Scottish Government’s website. 

Draft guidance chapters

The sub group discussed an updated draft of the guidance, which was issued prior to the call. Comments were noted against the following sections. 

Guiding principles – principle of least restriction

The principle of the least restrictive practice is well established and sub group members were content with the inclusion of this principle. However, clarify is needed to reflect the decision making process that practitioners may face, as there may be some circumstances where the most restrictive option may ultimately be the safest if the risks posed are judged to be severe. Clarifying examples were requested. 

Whole school approach

The following comments were made in discussion:

  • this chapter should reflect national, local authority and school policies, duties and responsibilities
  • parts 1 and 2 of ‘Included, Engaged and Involved’ give a clear national picture on Scottish Government policies and guidance, and this guidance should offer a similar overview
  • it was suggested that a table or checklist outlining key roles and responsibilities, similar to the table in the document ‘Developing a positive whole school ethos and culture: relationships, learning and behaviour’, could be included
  • a reference the role of teacher leadership in supporting staff to support children and young people could be considered

Professional learning

The following comments were made in the discussion:

  • any professional learning on physical intervention should include modules on proactive and reactive approaches to addressing the causes of distressed behaviour. These should reflect a trauma informed approach to practice
  • professional learning on effective methods of communicating with and supporting children and young people with individual communication support needs would be beneficial for staff
  • training in the use of the communications planning support tool, the communication passport, would also be welcome
  • it was recognised that only a small proportion of staff would require training in restrictive interventions

Preventative approaches

The sub group discussed the importance of identifying, planning for and meeting children and young people’s individual sensory needs to the success of preventative approach to addressing the causes of distressed behaviour. A section on sensory needs will be added to this chapter. 

De-escalation techniques

The PABSS representatives had provided a list of practical steps for de-escalating children and young people’s distressed behaviour. These have been included in the latest draft. 

Post-incident review

The following comments were made during the discussion:

  • consideration should be given to the immediate support needs of all children and young people and staff involved, including those who witnessed an incident where restrictive intervention were used
  • an immediate post-incident de-brief could be followed up by a reflective de-brief, a suitable number of days after the incident
  • clear timescales for notifying parents following an incident involving the use of restrictive intervention should be included
  • the post-incident debrief could include a section on any additional support that the school may require to implement any recommended approaches or adaptations 
  • consideration should be given to the need to systematically review the information captured in the debrief templates
  • example de-brief templates are available in Holding Safely: A Guide for Residential Child Care Practitioners and Managers about Physically Restraining Children and Young People. Examples from South Lanarkshire Council were also shared. Consideration will be given to their inclusion in the guidance
  • consideration should be given to any training requirements for conducting effective de-brief discussions with children and young people and staff


  • Scottish Government officials will reflect comments on the above chapters into the next draft of the guidance

Any other business

No items were raised. 

Date of next meeting

Scottish Government officials will contact sub group members with dates for the next meeting and will circulate a revised copy of the guidance in advance. 

October 2020

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