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NICCY Review of Restraint and Seclusion in Educational Settings


NICCY is undertaking a rights-based review on the use of Restraint and Seclusion in Educational Settings. We are aware that current guidance for school settings is over 20 years old and that schools need to have clear, updated guidance.

With lack of international standard definitions of restraint and seclusion (restrictive practices) in educational settings, NICCY is using the definitions below:

  • Physical Restraint is defined as “using physical force to prevent, restrict, or subdue the movement of a student’s body".
  • Mechanical Restraint is the restraint of a person by the application of a device to the person’s body, or a limb of the person, to restrict the person’s movement.
  • Seclusion is defined as “the confinement of a child, without their consent, by shutting them alone in a room or other area".
  • Deprivation of Liberty is when all of the following occur: A person is not free to leave; A person is under continuous supervision and control.


Our Review will provide evidence from a range of stakeholders including schools, professionals and parents regarding Restraint and Seclusion in schools in Northern Ireland. The Review will include clear recommendations to the Minister for Education and Department of Education on updating its guidance and support for school settings to ensure:

  • Seclusion is no longer used in educational settings.
  • Restraint is only used as a last resort only when the child or others are at risk, and its use is recorded and reported, and parents are fully informed.
  • Children’s rights are considered and protected at all times during any use of physical intervention using restrictive practices.

Advisory Group

Its membership includes Professionals in Education and Health, Academics, Representatives from NI Public Services Ombudsman, Children’s and Young People's Commissioner Scotland, Children’s Law Centre, and most importantly Parent Representatives.

Terms of Reference (ToR)

The TOR of Restraint and Seclusion sets the policy and legal context and human rights framework which outlines NICCY’s rights based review.  The TOR outline issues with current practices and highlights the aims of the review and the methodology in which NICCY will conduct its research.  Finally, the TOR outlines NICCY’s Advisory Group brief and timeline for the report to be launched.

School Survey

The first stage of the Review aims to gather the views of all schools in NI through an anonymous survey. This will make sure schools' knowledge and experiences inform our Review. A letter was sent from our Chief Executive Mairead McCafferty, to all School Principals requesting completion of the survey. 

The survey closes on Wednesday 30th June (Incl).

Email to School -  Template for Young People

We have created a template that young people can use to email or post to their school principals.

Email to School - Template for Parents

We have created a template that parents can use to email or post to school principals.


The Review will be published in December 2021.

More Information

If you would like to contact NICCY for more information, please email Fiona Cole, Policy and Research Officer on fionac@niccy.org.

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