Seclusion Rooms Not Acceptable

By Heeni Brown
  • Auckland

Minister of Education Hekia Parata says the use of seclusion rooms in schools is unacceptable but Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty has asked why they're still being used to manage student behaviour.

Under advice from the Ministry of Education the Minister says of the 64 special schools in New Zealand, eight of them have seclusions rooms.

Hekia Parata says, "The Ministry has advised me of the 64 special schools, eight have seclusion rooms. Given the two complaints, I was made aware of, one of which was Miramar Central School, the other which is the subject of a Police complaint. I directed the Ministry to urgently survey all schools to establish whether any other schools have such rooms. That process is not yet complete. I have made it clear that seclusion is an unacceptable practice and a working group from the sector has been developing guidelines on better restraint and behaviour management practices which are shortly to be published."

During Parliament's question-time Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty asked why the seclusion room at Miramar Central School was still in use.

Catherine Delahunty says, "Given that the Minister has known about the usage of a seclusion room at Miramar Central School since July 28th, why was the room still being used up to September 20?"
Hekia Parata says, "When the Ministry advised me that a complaint had been made, they also advised me that they had commissioned an independent review to gather the facts about the situation, in order the action could be taken."

Parata says the Ministry has been working to eliminate the confusion between time out for restraint and seclusion.

"Boards are required under the national administration guidance number five to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students. It was expected that these guidelines would assist Boards to carry out the rest of the responsibility they already have."

The last supplementary question asked if there will be a cut to all seclusion rooms in New Zealand schools. The Education Minister says that is exactly what's happening.

Parata says, "Where there are children who do have extreme behaviour, who may either hurt themselves or other children or other adults that there is appropriate behaviour management in those circumstances and seclusion rooms are not part of those options."