Education Minister Hekia Parata has today formally invited the Education and Science Select Committee to consider a change to the Education (Update) Amendment Bill to prohibit the use of seclusion in schools.
“Following my announcement earlier this month that I intended to invite the Select Committee to consider legislation that would prohibit seclusion in schools and early childhood education services, I have now written to the Chair with the proposed Supplementary Order Paper for the committee to consider,” says Ms Parata.
“While I have been advised that there are no schools now using seclusion, a law change is necessary to ensure that schools have a clear understanding that seclusion is no longer an acceptable practice for managing challenging behaviour.”
The proposed Supplementary Order Paper will also regulate the appropriate use of physical restraint, with a focus on staff and student safety and wellbeing.
The Ministry of Education recently completed a survey on the use of seclusion in schools and has worked intensively with a very small proportion to change their practice. The Ministry is aware of 17 out of a total of 2529 schools that used seclusion in 2016 – all have now stopped.
“The vast majority of schools already have good practices in place for managing behaviour in a safe and inclusive way. As a result of the action we have taken, a small proportion that were still using seclusion have ceased the practice and are now being supported to use better techniques to manage some very extreme and challenging behaviour of a small number of students,” says Ms Parata.
“I’m pleased that schools have responded quickly to the issuing of new guidance on managing challenging behaviour and the advice that seclusion is no longer an acceptable practice.
“The Ministry will be doing further work with schools to ensure that they have a good understanding of other behaviour management tools in place to de-escalate challenging behaviour and keep all students and staff safe.
“The Education Review Office has also made changes to its reviews of schools in light of the new guidance. It now specifically asks schools how they are managing children with behavioural difficulties.
“Any parent who continues to have concerns should contact the Ministry.”