The Teaching Council is disappointed changes around the use of physical restraint in schools debated in Parliament last night don’t go far enough for the safety of children and teachers. 

The physical restraint provisions proposed as part of the Education and Training Bill were put together by a hasty Supplementary Order Paper, on which stakeholders were given only 26 hours to provide feedback. 

“The SOP ignores the robust consultation with teachers, the public and disability and parent groups during the select committee stage,” Teaching Council Board member and John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh says. 

“As a result the SOP changes fall short of protecting children or supporting teachers to do their job safely. Teachers and children face growing behavioural and learning difficulties and we had high expectations for this amended Bill to address serious problems within the current legislation. 

“Instead, this legislation will create a climate of risk for teachers, where they will be reluctant to intervene in situations where needed - which in turn creates risk for student safety,” he says.

Rushed feedback mirrors the lead up to the ill-informed current framework introduced in 2017 which the Teaching Council has been seeking to fix on behalf of teachers.

“We do not want to find ourselves scrambling for another solution in another few years. This is a complex issue and we need teacher voice involved in the solutions,” Mr Walsh says.

Teachers have professional responsibilities placed on them for the overall safety and well-being of all the children and young people in their care as per the Code and Standards – this is a tough job and requires them to be able to act quickly to de-escalate potentially violent behaviour and to intervene when necessary. 

While disappointed, the Council believes minor changes are an improvement on the current law, as long as clear rules and guidelines are created with and for teachers to make this new framework workable. The Council is pleased the SOP includes a requirement for consultation with a range of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and the disability community, in the development of rules and guidelines. 

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