New Zealand Law Society - Plans to make seclusion in schools illegal

Plans to make seclusion in schools illegal

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Education Minister Hekia Parata says she will invite the Education and Science select committee to consider a Supplementary Order Paper to the Education (Update) Amendment Bill that would prohibit seclusion in schools and early childhood education services.

She says this would be achieved in a similar way to section 139A of the Education Act 1989 that prohibits corporal punishment.

Ms Parata says her proposal will make it illegal for schools and early childhood education services to use seclusion, which is defined as the practice of a student being involuntarily placed alone in a room at any time or for any duration, from which they cannot freely exit or believe they cannot freely exit.

Seclusion in the form of solitary confinement is already prohibited under early childhood regulations. The proposed legislation will include ECE services to ensure consistency across the education sector.

Ms Parata says the Secretary of Education has sent a letter to all schools to make it clear that no school should be using seclusion. The Ministry of Education has been working with a cross-sector advisory group to develop Guidance for New Zealand Schools on Behaviour Management to Minimise Physical Restraint.

The bill was introduced on 22 August 2016 and sets out objectives to guide the education system in the early childhood and schooling sectors.

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