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Inquiry: how schools are monitoring the use of restraint


In February 2020 we launched an inquiry into how schools are monitoring and recording their use of restraint, following widespread concerns about its use and the lack of data available. We temporarily paused this inquiry in 2020 while schools were closed during the coronavirus pandemic. We have now recommenced our engagement with schools, and the inquiry will conclude in late Spring 2021.

What is restraint?

Restraint is an action to limit a person's movement, liberty or freedom to act independently.

Restraint can include physical, mechanical and chemical forms of control, coercion and forced isolation. These can also be called ‘restrictive interventions’.

For more information, please see our human rights framework for restraint.

About the inquiry

Our inquiry will find out whether primary, secondary and special needs schools in England and Wales are collecting information. If so, are they using it to make any improvements to how they use restraint?

We want to understand:

  1. whether and how primary, secondary and special needs schools in England and Wales are collecting and using data on their use of restraint and restrictive interventions.
  2. what schools can learn from places that routinely record, monitor and analyse this data and use it to make changes to their approach

We will gather a range of evidence to help us to understand this issue, including:

  • talking with schools to understand if and how they record the use of restraint and restrictive interventions and, if so, how they use this information
  • gathering case studies from a range of settings where restraint and restrictive interventions of children is routinely gathered and where they use this information to change their approach

Inquiries are one of our powers under the Equality Act. They can help us to find out more about equality or human rights in a particular sector or about a specific issue.

Why are we doing this inquiry?

To understand if restraint and restrictive interventions are used appropriately in schools it is important to monitor and record their use.

There is no law to make schools record these incidents, resulting in a lack of transparency and data on how restraint is being used.

Meaningful data is needed to help schools improve their practices to make sure that the rights of children and young people in their care are protected.

We will also look to institutions that collect and use data, to explore if we can learn anything from their approaches that could be applied to schools.

Further information

If you have any questions about the inquiry, or if you would like to submit evidence to the inquiry based on our terms of reference, please email the school restraint inquiry team

Last updated: 25 Feb 2021