Almost all school leaders (97%) want the Department of Education to issue guidelines to schools on the physical intervention/restraint of students, according to our latest survey.
Our Education law team, the largest in Ireland, polled more than 500 educators and school leaders at our recent webinar. The event was designed to address the pressing legal considerations for School Boards of Management as they prepare for the school year ahead.
Disruption to the teaching and learning of other students was the biggest issue for 56% of respondents, followed by injury to students (20%) and injury to staff (18%). 6% said that self-harm was the biggest behavioural issue in their school.
Liam Riordan, Education Partner, said: “School leaders, teachers and special needs assistants are frequently confronted by students exhibiting challenging and disruptive behaviours. It is crucial to avoid reacting in the heat of the moment so that any decision made is in the best interest of all parties. Before suspending a student, it is important to consider the legal implications, ensure adherence to the school’s code of conduct and ensure that fair procedures are followed.”
The survey also found that the majority (59%) of school leaders are not confident in managing behaviours of concern, and only 28% of schools polled have a Behaviours of Concern Policy in place.
Catherine Kelly, Education Partner, commented: “Managing challenging behaviour in students is one of the most difficult issues for schools. Our survey results underscore the pressing need for clear guidelines and training in this area, to provide schools with greater confidence and clarity and to enhance the safety of both students and staff.”
David Ruddy, barrister and training consultant, added: “There will be crisis situations where it may be necessary for a physical intervention and possible restraint. Schools that have a Behaviour of Concern policy and training are in a much stronger position to limit liability. It is critical that school leaders are equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to navigate this complex landscape.”