Female teacher is teaching shapes to her primary school students. She is asking hem a question and some of the students have their hand in the air to answer.

Restraint in Schools

James Hourihan, Author

A Case Study

We have based this case study on an inquiry published June 2021. The case study is part of “The Equality and Human Rights Commission, Restraint in Schools Inquiry” . Timian Learning and Development have been working with Denbighshire PRU for more than 17 years. We’ve delivered our Train the Trainers package and we’ve worked with them on a more bespoke level.

Denbighshire Pupil Referral Unit

Denbighshire Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) provides support for pupils aged 5-16 with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

This case study explains how it uses data to:

  • inform its interventions, support individuals and reduce the use of restraint
  • support children and young people’s wellbeing and attitudes to learning

Using Data

Denbighshire PRU sits at the centre of a highly integrated partnership with schools across the county: 

  • Primary school children spend half their time in the PRU. They receive help with their emotional and mental health, and the rest in their mainstream school. Nearly all of these children improve their ability to manage their emotions and behaviour. Because of this the majority make a successful return to school full time.
  • Younger secondary school age children receive personal and social education and emotional management support. Coupled with this there is help to catch up on academic learning. Nearly all of these children improve their ability to manage their emotions and behaviour. Because of this many make a successful return to school.
  • Older pupils at the PRU often have the most challenging behaviour and a return to school is not always realistic. 

Collaborative Work

It works closely with its schools to keep children in their mainstream settings. When children do come to the PRU, the focus is on enabling a successful and sustainable return.

It operates an open door policy and encourages staff in local schools to come and see what it does.

Reducing Restraint in Schools

The PRU used to use restrictive physical interventions almost daily, but now whole terms pass without the use of restraint. As importantly, far fewer children and young people spend time in the PRU. This is because the efforts of its outreach staff mean there are now far fewer behavioural crises in local schools.

The extensive data gathering is part of the success. The PRU is committed to understanding the behaviour and needs of children and young people.  Several of its staff are accredited Timian Learning and Development trainers. This is an approach that promotes behaviour management principles and practices approved by the Restraint Reduction Network. 

The PRU says this is the foundation for its success and its partnership with local schools.

‘Staff need to understand how children develop, particularly teenagers. Understanding the functions and causes of their behaviour is critical’.

Nicola Wynne-Roberts, Headteacher At The PRU And Inclusion Manager For Denbighshire’s Education System

There is continuous staff development throughout the year. Because of this, positive behaviour support principles are embeded in practice. 

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, PRU staff have undertaken accredited training in ‘trauma-informed schools’ principles. Removing Challenging Behaviour completely is unlikely. This is because the PRU, and schools more widely, are dealing with trauma that children bring from their lives outside of school.

‘Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences is a feature of our approach to identifying individuals’ needs. A lot of that analysis feeds through into our staff training and induction so that staff are fully briefed on what they need to know.’

Nicola Wynn-Roberts

If you want to learn more about our work with Denbighshire, then contact us here

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