Our response to the Challenging Behaviour Foundation report on restraint and seclusion in schools

Response to the Challenging Behaviour Foundation report on restraint and seclusion in schools covered on BBC Breakfast this morning:

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation and Positive Active Behaviour Support Scotland (PABSS), report [1], which was covered in compelling coverage by BBC Breakfast today, highlights the shocking frequency of the use of restriction and seclusion to control the behaviour of some of the most vulnerable children in school. These practices disproportionately affect those with learning disabilities including autism.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation report found that 88% of respondents to their survey of families with children with a learning disability reported that their children had experienced restraint and 71% had been secluded. For 21% of these children, seclusion was a daily experience.

Disruptive behaviour is an expression of unmet need and the most compassionate and effective way of improving a child’s behaviour is to make sure that their needs are met. Practices such as restraint and seclusion do not meet children’s needs, do not address the underlying issues, and cause unacceptable harm. 91% of families surveyed for the Challenging Behaviour Foundation’s report said that their child had been negatively emotionally affected by restraint or seclusion and, shockingly, 58% reported physical injuries.

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“This situation cannot continue. We must work towards a society and an education system which promotes equity where children with learning disability are integrated and fully included. These problems persist because children with special educational needs and learning disabilities are too often invisible in the public discussion on education. The government urgently needs to issue guidance on behaviour management for children with learning disability and address the funding shortfall [2] which results in their needs not being routinely met.

“We at the Mental Health Foundation, which incorporates the Foundation for Learning Disabilities, ask the Government to intervene and stop the damaging, unethical behaviour management practices that are a daily reality for too many children with learning disability.

“What happens in schools has the potential to have a major impact children’s wellbeing, and problems that develop at this age can have a huge impact across a person’s life. For this reason, we are campaigning to make wellbeing central to children’s school experience [3].


  1. https://www.challengingbehaviour.org.uk/cbf-articles/latest-news/restrai...
  2. The BBC released figures showing that councils have overspent by at least £324m on their budgets for young adults and children with special needs this financial year.
  3. Read more about our Make it Count campaign to improve children’s wellbeing and mental health in schools.