Table of Contents
- Right to Education
- Seeking a Local School Place for a Child with an Intellectual Disability
- Appeals against refusal to admit for exclusion, suspension, or a reason other than the school being oversubscribed.
- Exclusion from School or Refusal to Enrol in School
- Seclusion and Restraint in Educational Settings FAQ
Right to Education
“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and based on equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning…
“Article 24 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
What are a child’s legal rights to education?
The Education Act 1998 – a right to education
The Education Act 1998 sets out the right to education for every person in the state. Section 7 of the Act says that the Minister for Education “must ensure that there is made available to each person resident in the State……, including a person with a disability or who has other special educational needs, support services and a level and quality of education appropriate to meeting the needs and abilities of that person.”
The act emphasises inclusivity and equality of access, including provision for persons with disabilities or other special educational needs and sets out the rights of parents to send their children to a school of their choice.
For more information, follow the links:
Education Act 1998
The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004) – legal framework for special education
The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act (2004) sets out the legal framework for the education of children with special educational needs. The EPSEN Act includes the aim that children with special educational needs should be educated, wherever possible, in an inclusive environment and that those with special educational needs should have the same rights to appropriate education as children without special educational needs. The act also provides a legal basis for the National Council for Special Education.
To date, only some parts of the EPSEN Act 2004 have been put into effect by the Minister for Education and Science. Part of the act came into force on 14 July 2005 and a further five sections on 1 October 2005. The sections of the Act which have come into force deal with the right to be educated in an inclusive manner, the duties of schools and the establishment of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
The sections of the act providing for an individual right to assessment, individual education plans, the designation of schools, appeals processes and co-operation between the education and health services have not yet been implemented.” – Department of Education and Skills – Inclusion of Students with Special Educational Needs – Post-Primary Guidelines.
Follow the links below for information and advice:
The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004)
Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 – to improve access to local schools
The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 introduced reforms, which will make it easier for a child to access their local school. Section 8 – Special Classes, provides the Minister with the power to compel a school to make additional provisions in respect of children with special educational needs i.e., open a special class or classes, where the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has identified a need for such provision within an area.
This measure will ensure that where there is a gap in provision for the education of children with special needs, identified by the NCSE, and no school is willing to make such provision available, the gap can be addressed effectively by the issuing of a direction by the Minister to the school.
Follow the links below for information.
The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004)
What are a child’s constitutional rights to education?
In 2001, the High Court ruled that every person in Ireland had a constitutional right to free appropriate primary education based on need.
The judgment confirmed that this was a fundamental right which was not limited by the availability of resources. The government did not challenge the High Court decision for children 18 years and younger but successfully appealed its application to persons over 18 years of age to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided that the right to free primary education ends at age 18 and does not continue based on need.
Articles 40-44 provide for the fundamental rights of Irish citizens.
Article 42 of the Constitution deals with education. Other articles relating to fundamental rights also have a bearing on education law.
Follow the links below for information
Seeking a Local School Place for a Child with an Intellectual Disability
In Primary School or Transition from Primary to Secondary School
Section 1: Assessment of Need, Diagnosis and Professional Reports
What is Assessment of Need?
If a parent or guardian believes that their child may have a disability, they may apply to the Health Service Executive to carry out an assessment of their health needs arising from their disability. Any child or young adult born after June 1st, 2002, is eligible to apply for an assessment, regardless of age.
The Disability Act 2005 legally requires the Health Service Executive to carry out the assessment of need. There are strict time limits for completion of assessments. The Disability Act 2005 says the assessment of need shall determine whether child has a disability as defined by the Disability Act. This definition is not linked to any diagnosis or list of conditions. Where it is determined that the child has a disability the assessment shall determine the nature and extent of disability, shall state the health and education needs, shall state the services the child needs and shall state when and for how long the services should be provided.
Before making arrangements for clinical assessments to be administered, Assessment Officers will be satisfied, based on a desktop examination of the application, and supporting information, that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the child / young person may meet the definition of disability. The Assessment of Need must be commenced within 3 months of the date of the receipt of the application or request. The assessment must be completed within a further three months from the date on which the assessment commenced.
Part 2 of the assessment of need process is the service statement. Based on the assessment of need, where it is determined that the child has a disability, the HSE (Health Service Executive) must prepare a Service Statement. The service statement sets out the health services, education services or both which will be provided to the applicant by or on behalf of the HSE or an education service provider, as appropriate. The service statement will also set out the period of time within which such services will be provided.
A one-month period is allowed to produce the Service Statement. The Assessment Report and Service Statement will be issued simultaneously.
Assessment of Need Process Time Limit Commencement of Assessment 3 months Completion of Assessment +3 months Total time limit for assessment 6 months Service Statement +1 month Total time limit (assessment + service statement) 7 months
If at any time during the Assessment of Need process, the Assessment Officer is of the opinion that intervention is required as a matter of urgency s/he will ensure that an immediate referral is arranged to the relevant service provider.
The Assessment Officer will ensure that the Assessment of Need process does not unduly hinder or delay intervention. Where necessary, the Assessment Officer will escalate any issues to the relevant Head of Service.
When an Assessment Officer is of the opinion that there is a requirement for an education service to be provided to an applicant, they must request the NCSE (National Council for Special Education) to nominate a person with appropriate expertise to carry out the assessment of the applicant’s education needs.
Further information about the Assessment of Need:
HSE Assessment of Need Standard Operating Procedure.
How do I make a complaint if I am not happy with the Assessment of Need?
A parent may complain to the HSE for one of the following reasons:
- A determination that the child does not have a disability and you disagree.
- The time limit for assessments is not adhered to.
- If HIQA standards are not adhered to.
- The content of the service statement or if any service in the service statement is not delivered.
If you are unhappy with the HSE Complaint Officer’s findings, you may appeal to the Office of the Disability Appeal Officer. Their decision is final.
How do I get a referral to HSE Primary Care Services or the local Children’s Disability Network Team?
The HSE advises
- “If you think that your child may have a disability, talk to your GP (General Practitioner) or public health nurse (PHN) as soon as possible. They can talk to you about what will happen next.
- Children who have mild or moderate difficulties may be referred to one or more health professionals in their local primary care services.
- Children who have a range of significant difficulties may be referred to a children’s disability network team (CDNT). This is a team of professionals with expertise in disability who work closely together.
- A referral can be made by a healthcare professional. Or you can make the referral yourself.”
For more information and referral forms visit –
Where else can I seek assessment, supports and professional reports?
Professional reports which identify the needs of the child and /or diagnose disability may also be sought from other services or professionals. Where you might seek the report will depend on the age and the educational and support needs of the child. Examples include:
- Professionals working for an HSE-funded or independently funded disability service (if available in your locality),
- The National Educational Psychology Service (NEPS), for children already attending school, service accessed through the school
- The HSE Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services CAMHS, referral through your GP, consultant paediatrician, psychologist or Jigsaw – the National Centre for Youth Mental Health.
- Psychologists or therapists who work privately (for a fee).
Occupational Therapist – https://www.aoti.ie/ot-directory
Physiotherapist – https://www.iscp.ie/find-a-physio
Psychiatrist – An appointment with a psychiatrist can only be obtained by referral from a general practitioner (GP) or family doctor, or in emergency situations through a local HSE mental health unit.
Psychologist – https://www.psychologicalsociety.ie/pd/?pd_s=&pd_d=
Speech and Language Therapist – https://isti.ie/find-a-speech-therapist/
When is a diagnosis of disability or a professional report needed?
For mainstream school and mainstream classes?
A new model for allocating Special Education Teachers to mainstream schools was introduced in September 2017. Children do not have to be diagnosed with a particular condition to qualify for extra teaching assistance. The new model gives greater freedom to schools to give extra teaching help to the pupils who most need it, regardless of their diagnosis.
However, diagnosis can be helpful in providing indications that may be helpful in planning how to meet Special Educational Needs. Where a parent has an assessment for their child which notes that they have a particular special educational need or disability, they should still bring this to the attention of the school, as it may assist the school in deciding how best to support the child.
For special classes and special education schools?
The NCSE says that to access a special class a student must have a report from a relevant professional or team of professionals (for example, psychologist, speech and language therapist, psychiatrist) stating that:
- She or he has a disability (in line with the designation of the special class in question) and
- She or he has complex or severe learning needs that require the support of a special class setting and the reasons why this is the case.
The professional report must meet DES requirements for the disability in question. Under no circumstances should a school place a student in a special class without such a professional report.
For parents and guardians?
As a parent, if you have a psychological or other professional report on your child, it may give you clarity regarding your child’s situation and be of assistance as you make decisions about school places and support. Decisions about educational placement, services or support are made by the school and the NCSE in consultation with the child’s parents or guardians.
Section 2: Gather information in relation to schools in your locality that your child might attend.
Where can I find information about schools in my local area?
The National Council for Special Education website provides location and contact information for schools (primary, post-primary and special schools) in your area through the NCSE Schools Information Map. The NCSE also provides a full list of all special classes in primary and post-primary schools.
You may wish to visit some local schools to find out if they can offer a place for your child. You can ask what support they currently provide and what additional support they could provide, to meet your child’s needs. We advise phoning the school in advance to make an appointment to visit, at a time that suits you and the school.
The National Council for Special Education offers support for parents through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENO). The SENO ensures that a child with special educational needs receives the support they are entitled to. A SENO can advise parents and schools on the facilities, services, and resources available to assist children with additional Educational Needs. If your child has complex special educational needs, or you are having difficulty finding a placement for a child with educational needs, you should contact the local SENO for advice. To find out the name of the SENO and their contact details in your area check the NCSE Regional Services Contact List on the NCSE website.
Section 3: Apply in writing to schools in your locality.
How do I apply to enrol my child in a school?
Apply to enrol your child in those schools in your locality that may have a place suitable for your child and that are within a reasonable distance of your home.
You can find out about school enrolment from the school principal or from the school’s website and your local SENO can provide advice and guidance. Decisions on applications for admission to a school will be based on the following:
- The school’s admission policy – read the policy before you apply
- The school’s annual admission notice, containing essential information for parents regarding the application process, including key dates and the number of places available, will ensure a consistent and transparent approach to school admission processes. The notice must be published on the school’s website and be available to you on written request.
- The information provided by the applicant in their application
A school must comply with the rules of admission they set out in their admission policy. Selection criteria that are not included in the school admission policy cannot be used to decide on an application for a place in the school.
Schools must specify a period for receiving applications, the timeline for decisions about applications, and in the case of a school with a special class the number of school places available in the special class concerned, in their annual admission notice.
Section 4: School notifies applicants of decision about admission
How will I know if the application for a school place was successful?
All applicants for a school place should be informed in writing as to the decision of the school, within the timeline outlined in the school’s annual admissions notice.
If a student is not offered a place in a school, the reasons why they were not offered a place should be communicated in writing to the applicant, including, where applicable, details of the student’s ranking against the selection criteria and details of the student’s place on the waiting list for the school year concerned. Applicants should be informed of the right to seek a review and the right to appeal the school’s decision.
Section 5: Appealing a Decision by the School – a Section 29 Appeal
What can I do if my child is not accepted into a school?
If a school refuses to enrol a child, (or if a school suspends a child for more than 20 days in a year or expels a child), a parent can appeal the decision under section 29 of the Education Act 1998.
This is referred to as a Section 29 Appeal. The appeal process varies depending on whether the school refused to enrol a student due to the school being oversubscribed or if the refusal was for a reason other than the school being oversubscribed.
For an outline of the correct appeal process click the relevant link below:
Appeal against a school for refusal to enrol a student due to the school being oversubscribed. (link to inclusion webpage)
Appeal against a school for refusal to enrol a student for a reason other than the school being oversubscribed. (link to inclusion webpage)
Further information on Section 29 Appeals:
Department of Education
Section 6: Education Act 2018 – Provision of Special Classes
What can I do if there is no local school place for my child and no school willing to provide a place?
Children with additional educational needs looking to attend a mainstream school in a mainstream classroom will usually be successful in finding a school place in their local community, although it may not be the school of first choice, as all mainstream schools should have the ability and should be able to put in place the resources to support their education.
Children for whom a mainstream place is not currently an option, where a place in a special class or special school is recommended, may find it more difficult to find a school place in their own community or even within a reasonable distance of their home. Having taken all reasonable steps to find and apply for a place in a special class or a special school for their child, each year a number of parents will find that there is no place for their child and no school willing to take on the provision of that place.
In this situation, under the Education Act 2018, the Minister for Education can compel a school to open a special class where there is a gap in providing for the education of children with special needs.
If they have not already done so, parents who are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO). The SENO, and through them, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), should be made aware of the child’s needs and the lack of an appropriate school place.
As a parent, you may write to your local SENO identifying the lack of a place for your child in the locality. The letter should set out the child’s special educational needs, supported by a report from a relevant professional or team of professionals that states that the child has a disability in line with the designation of the special class in question and sets out why the child requires the support of a special class setting. Your letter should also outline the steps you have taken to date to secure a school place and include copies of any letters of refusal received. Parents should ask that the NCSE prepare and submit a report to the Minister for Education identifying that there is a shortage of special class places in their locality. Writing to the SENO and through them the NCSE is not something you are required to do but it is a useful way to set your child’s situation clearly and to maintain a written record of steps taken to seek a placement for your child.
The SENO’s role is to advise parents, ensure that a child with special educational needs receives the support they are entitled to and, as needed, notify the NCSE of the lack of local provision.
Where a gap in local provision is identified by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), and no school is willing to make provision available, the Minister for Education can compel a school to open a special class. The Minister can take this action following several initial steps which allow for engagement between the Minister, the NCSE, the Board of Management and the Patron of a school. This process can take some time. Your local SENO will advise on interim educational provision and when an appropriate school placement becomes available. The Minister for Education, advised by the NCSE, can also make provision for special schools, as needed.
Section 7: Home Tuition, Interim measure in the absence of school place
What is home tuition?
In the absence of an appropriate school place, home tuition may be provided. The Home Tuition Scheme provides funding towards a home-based educational service for children with special educational needs while they are seeking an educational placement. Home Tuition is provided as an interim measure only for children for whom a placement in a recognised school is not available, as confirmed by the NCSE and should not be regarded as an optional alternative to a school placement. When a school placement becomes available the Home Tuition Grant will be discontinued.
Further Information and advocacy support for Parents
A short guide produced by the Australian Family Advocacy organisation. The guide sets out how to plan and organise meetings when advocating for a family member with a disability.
AsIam – Autism – common issue for parents, guardians carers and siblings
Connect Family Network Map – Inclusion Ireland Map listing family support groups across the country
Appeals against refusal to admit for exclusion, suspension, or a reason other than the school being oversubscribed.
Reasons to Make a Section 29 Appeal (other than oversubscribed)
Under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 –
A parent, or a student where they have reached the age of 18, may appeal a decision of a Board of Management to
Permanently exclude a student from a school
Suspend a student from attendance at a school, for a period or periods totalling more than 20 school days in a school year
Refuse to admit a student to the school for a reason other than the school being oversubscribed.
Section 29 of the Education Act 1998
The process for appeals against a school for exclusion, suspension, or refusal to enrol a student is made under section 29 of the Education Act 1998. The system of appeal with important timelines is set out below.
- You can request a review by the School Board of Management (BOM) of the decision to refuse a place at the school. (optional)
- You can appeal the decision of the Board of Management to refuse a place at the school to the Department of Education.
Important to Know – if appealing for reasons other than school oversubscribed:
When applying for a review or appeal the grounds for the review or appeal must be set out.
The review or appeal must be based on the implementation of the school’s admission policy and the school’s annual admissions notice. Did the school follow its own admission policy and rules?
You can find out about the school’s admission policy from the school principal or from the school’s website. Your local SENO (Special Educational Needs Organiser) can also provide advice and guidance.
How the Review or Appeal is Decided
Each stage of the review or appeal process will consider:
- If the request for review or appeal is valid. Where the request for review or appeal is valid the review or appeal can continue.
- If there was a failure or mistake in making the decision to refuse admission and
- If the failure or mistake influenced the outcome of the application.
The review or appeal then decides:
- Where the review or appeal finds a failure or mistake in relation to admission that had an impact on the application, the failure or mistake must be corrected by admitting the student to the school or special class concerned.
The Appeal Process
There are 5 stages to the process, starting with a request for a review by the Board of Management of the school’s decision to refuse. The request for review by the school board of management is optional. The appeal to the Department of Education includes an in-person or oral hearing.
The Appeal Hearing
An appeals Committee is made up of 3 people. The Appeal hearing is kept as informal as possible. A parent is allowed to submit any information or reports to support their case. The school may also submit evidence to support its case.
The National Council for Special Education or an Education Welfare Officer may submit a report. The Appeals Committee may invite any relevant expert to attend the hearing if necessary. The parent and the school board may be accompanied at the hearing by one or two other people nominated by them to attend. People accompanying will not be allowed to make statements at the hearing except in exceptional circumstances. If you cannot attend the appeal hearing, inform the DES immediately or the appeal could be held in your absence.
At the appeal hearing both the parent and the school state their case. The parent and the school then have the chance to respond to the other and ask questions. The Appeals Committee can also ask questions of either side or any invited person. Where practicable the Appeal Committee may support both parties to reach an agreement.
The Appeal Hearing Determination (or Decision)
The Appeal Committee makes a preliminary decision or determination. The parent, the school and the agencies involved have 7 days to make observations to the Appeals Committee in relation to the preliminary decision. The Appeals Committee then makes a final decision, to uphold the appeal or not.
This determination is based on whether the school has followed their own stated policies (on enrolment or discipline) and whether fair procedures were followed. If the appeal is successful, the DES will direct the school to enrol your child or take them back to school or clear any suspension or expulsion from their record. Either side can appeal the determination in the courts.
If you are unhappy with the committee’s decision, you may also contact the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman.
Exclusion from School or Refusal to Enrol in School
A parent may make an appeal on behalf of their child if a school refuses to enrol a child, a school suspends a child for more than 20 days in a year or a school expels a child.
Appeal against a school for refusal to enrol a student due to school being oversubscribed.
Appeals against refusal to admit for exclusion, suspension, or a reason other than the school being oversubscribed.
Inclusion Ireland has looked at the experience and impact of short school days on children with disabilities and their families in the Republic of Ireland.
Read our 2019 report on Education, Behaviour and Exclusion here
Seclusion and Restraint in Educational Settings FAQ
What is seclusion?
Seclusion is the placing and keeping of a person (alone) in a room or other space from which they are unable to leave.
Inability to leave can arise from exits being locked or being otherwise obstructed; inference, instruction, or threat to the secluded person not to leave; belief on the part of the secluded person that they are being stopped from or are otherwise not allowed to leave, reluctance or refusal to leave because of fear of consequences of doing so. (NICCY 2021)
What are restrictive practices?
Also known as restrictive interventions, these are practices that intentionally limit a person’s freedom of movement or function. This can be through restraint, mechanical, physical, or chemical – with or without the use of force, or by seclusion.
Mechanical restraint: the use of a device, equipment, or other tool for compelling, controlling, or subduing the bodily movements of the person to whom such mechanical restraint is administered.
Physical restraint: the use of direct physical contact by one or more persons for the purpose of compelling, controlling, preventing, or subduing the bodily movements of the person being restrained.
Chemical restraint: the use of substances as ingested, inhaled, or injected for the purpose of compelling, controlling, or subduing the behaviour of the person to whom the medication is administered, regardless of whether such substance has been medically prescribed for the treatment of formally diagnosed physical or mental illness. (NICCY 2021)
What is the current Irish legislation or guidance on the use of restrictive practices in educational settings?
The Department of Education has been repeatedly asked to issue guidelines to schools on the issue of restraint and seclusion. The National Council for Special Education asked for guidelines as far back as 2012, again in 2016 and in 2018.
In 2019 the Department of Education established an Expert Working Group and consulted with stakeholders on Guidelines on the Use of Physical Intervention for the Prevention and Management of Crisis Situations.
Legislation or guidance on the use of restrictive practices in educational settings has not yet been introduced or implemented in schools. There is currently no legal requirement for a teacher or school to record or report the use of restraint or seclusion of a student.
Is there international guidance in relation to use of restrictive practices in educational settings?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) says:
A mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance, and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community. Article 23
Every child has the right to education; School discipline should be administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity. Article 28
In 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, reviewing the UK made the following Concluding Observations concerning the use of restraint and seclusion on children in schools:
Abolish all methods of restraint against children for disciplinary purposes in all institutional settings, both residential and non-residential, and ban the use of any technique designed to inflict pain on children.
Ensure that restraint is used against children exclusively to prevent harm to the child or others and only as a last resort.
Systematically and regularly collect and publish disaggregated data on the use of restraint and other restrictive interventions on children to monitor the appropriateness of discipline and behaviour management for children in all settings, including in education.
Ensure that corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited in all schools and educational institutions and all other institutions and forms of alternative care.
Abolish the use of isolation rooms.
The 2016 concluding observations included concerns about the use of restraint and seclusion on children with psycho-social disabilities, including children with autism, in schools.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities)) says-
every person with a disability has a right to education without discrimination and based on equal opportunity and the right to an inclusive education system at all levels, in the communities in which they live, and lifelong learning. Article 24
the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty (Article 14)
every person with a disability has a right to respect his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others (Article 17)
What should Department of Education guidelines for schools require in relation to seclusion and restraint?
It is now necessary for the Department of Education and Skills to tightly prescribe the use of restrictive practices and issue statutory guidance that ensures that restraint and seclusion are used only to protect the child or others and not as a form of punishment. Seclusion should never be allowed in school.
Guidance must provide:
- Clear definitions of restrictive practices and support practices, with the use of restraint against children solely used to prevent harm to the child or others and only as a last resort and the use of seclusion abolished.
- A clear outline of the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of school staff, health professionals, Principals, Boards of Management, TUSLA, parents/carers, children and young people and the Department of Education.
- Exemplars of positive, preventative, and early intervention practices informed by best practice.
- Mandatory training and supervision for staff in educational settings. (Training and supervision are compulsory in other sectors such as mental health). Guidance must include details of training and resources available for educational settings in relation to behaviours of concern.
- Access to a multi-disciplinary team to include educational psychology, child mental health or children’s disability services as appropriate
- The requirement is to notify parents/carers of any incident and to follow up with a written report to include details of support for the student and staff to minimise the prospect of repeat incidents.
- . Access to an appeal on the use of restraint and seclusion, and access to independent advocacy where required.
- Access to a complaints process with links to statutory safeguarding and child protection services.
- A mandate for the recording and reporting of all incidents of restraint and seclusion with regular publication of disaggregated data on the use of restraint and other restrictive interventions on children to monitor the use and appropriateness of use of any restrictive practices for children in all educational settings.
- An outline of whistleblowing procedures
- Provision for review and published reporting of the guidance in operation.
Informed by the
- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
- UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Harry’s Law Campaign 10-point mandate
- 2019 Department of Education consultation and draft Guidelines for Schools on the use of Physical Intervention for the Prevention and Management of Crisis Situations,
- the 2022 Department of Education NI Review of the Use of Restraint and Seclusion in Educational Settings in Northern Ireland,
- consultation with parents/carers and professional stakeholders for the 2018 Shining a Light on Seclusion and Restraint Report and 2022 All-Island Restraint Reduction Network Conference Report.
What should Department of Education guidelines for schools require in relation to seclusion and restraint?
This conversation about the misuse of restrictive practices takes place particularly in the context of the disabled child or child with additional needs within the educational setting. In the absence of reporting and recording, we do not have data for misuse of restrictive practices on the Island of Ireland. US federal data reports that of the 101,990 students who were restrained at school (year 2017/18) – to immobilize them or reduce their ability to move freely or were placed in seclusion — 79,676, or 78%, were students with disabilities, although students with disabilities made up just 13% of the school population.
Current guidance on the issue of the misuse of restrictive practices that are placed within the framework of school behaviour and disciplinary policies, with only passing references to the exception that is the child with a disability or additional needs, cannot succeed when the context in the main is a child with a disability or additional needs and the context is not misbehaviour or a failure in discipline, but a manifestation of the disabled child’s distress or a reaction to an approach that is not developmentally appropriate for the child.
We will also fail if we continue to define the “crisis” in terms of what is being experienced by the school, the staff, and the class – as observers and interveners – when the real difficulty and the crisis are that being experienced by the child, most likely a disabled child. This was recently put most clearly and succinctly by Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), adjudicator Thomas O’Driscoll. Finding that a school discriminated against a child with Down Syndrome on the grounds of disability. Mr. O’Driscoll stated that “undoubtedly the girl’s behaviour was challenging for the staff, as they described it, but instead of seeing the “challenge” as how best to deliver and meet the educational needs of all in their charge they attributed the problem to her.” RTE 2022
Publications in relation to Seclusion and Restraint in Educational Settings