ENABLE Scotland members take In Safe Hands to Holyrood

March 3, 2020 Campaigning

Continuing the success of the In Safe Hands campaign to end the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint in Scotland’s schools, ENABLE Scotland members took the campaign to the Scottish Parliament (Tuesday 25th February) where it was the subject of a member’s business debate led by Jackie Baillie MSP.

In Safe Hands calls on the Scottish Government to:

  • Issue stronger, dedicated guidance on the us of seclusion and restraint in Scotland’s schools
  • Roll out positive support strategies in all schools through skilled staff
  • Introduce a duty of candour around restraint and seclusion for all schools
  • Strengthen transparency and accountability, with powers of oversight resting with the appropriate body

Since the launch of In Safe Hands, the Scottish Government has committed to producing a new, stronger, stand alone set of Guidance on the use of seclusion and restraint in schools, and ENABLE Scotland has been invited to joint the working group tasked with its development.  ENABLE Scotland briefed MSPs in advance of the debate, and you can read our briefing here.

Jackie Baillie MSP led the debate, and members of ENABLE Scotland were present in the public gallery to hear Ruth Maguire MSP, Jeremy Balfour MSP, Alison Johnstone MSP and Daniel Johnston MSP who all spoke in support of the objectives of the campaign, and commended ENABLE Scotland members for raising the issue.  All encouraged the Scottish Government to support the campaign and deliver its key asks.

During the debate, Jackie Baillie MSP said:

Enable Scotland’s “in safe hands?” campaign makes four simple recommendations, which I commend to the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills…. Seclusion and restraint are against the human rights of children and young people. Frankly, use of them is appalling. Every day, children are subjected to inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint in Scotland’s schools. That is not just appalling—it is embarrassing. There is no time to waste: the practice must end now.


The Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, responded on behalf of the Scottish Government, referencing the Scottish Government’s commitment to producing a new, stronger set of Guidance on seclusion and restraint in schools saying:

I recognise the Enable Scotland’s “in safe hands?” campaign, which seeks to end the inappropriate use, with children and young people who have a learning disability, of physical intervention and seclusion in schools and which promotes the rights of some of the country’s most vulnerable pupils…

I thank Jackie Baillie for raising this important and sensitive issue, Enable Scotland for championing it and [ENABLE Scotland member and Trustee] Beth Morrison for advancing the arguments that have brought us to this point. I believe that the measures that the Government is putting in place—in concert with a range of stakeholders and after dialogue with the Children and Young People’s Commissioner and the Equality and Human Rights Commission—provide us with a robust approach to ensuring that we tackle this important issue and improve the climate that surrounds children and young people in such circumstances. It reaffirms our commitment and our intent to ensure that all our children and young people are able to grow, learn, develop and reach their full potential in Scotland.


Importantly, the Deputy First Minister confirmed that the Scottish Government will still consider statutory guidance, saying:

I agreed that the working group would also review the effectiveness of the guidance. In conjunction with the working group, Scottish Government officials will develop a plan and delivery for that review, which will begin 12 months after the publication of the guidance. If, following the review, it is found that the guidance does not have the desired impact, I will at that time consider other options, including statutory means, to ensure that the guidance reaches our agreed goal.


Following the debate, ENABLE Scotland members met with Jackie Baillie MSP in the Scottish Parliament and were joined by Daniel Johnston MSP to talk about the In Safe Hands campaign, why it mattered to them, and what they thought of the debate.

You can read the full transcript of the debate here.

You can watch the debate here.

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