CHALLENGING pupils are being routinely restrained or locked up in classrooms, according to a shocking new report.

An investigation by Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner uncovered a series of incidents where pupils had been held down or shut in rooms as a result of their behaviour.

The report said: “We heard that children can be restrained or secluded in response to challenging behaviour without any consideration of what may lie behind that behaviour or the individual child’s rights and needs.

“We have been told of children being regularly restrained in front of other children and of the terrible loss of dignity for children restrained or placed in seclusion who become distressed.

“We have been sent photographs of disabled children with injuries alleged to have been sustained at school while in the care and under the supervision of adult professionals.”

The report said parents had described the frustration they felt in trying to challenge schools over practices which had resulted in “physical and emotional harm” to children.

The report added: “Some parents and carers have even resorted to reporting incidents to the police, seeking criminal prosecutions for assault.

“There may be times when the use of restraint or seclusion is a necessary response as a measure of last resort to prevent harm to a child or to others, but under any circumstances it has a profound impact on children.”

The report said the evidence showed “significant physical interventions” were taking place in some areas without any policy or procedure at local authority level.

Where policies do exist, the report said, there was significant variation between councils in how the policies operated.

Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, called on councils to stop restraint or seclusion of pupils until officials developed clear policies on the issue.

The commissioner has also urges the Scottish Government to publish national policy and guidance documents on restraint and seclusion in schools.

Mr Adamson said all councils should ensure incidents were recorded on a standardised national form.

Sharon Gardner, a parent who contributed to the report, said: “Families whose children have experienced restraint and seclusion have been desperate for someone to properly look into this issue.

“My own son was regularly locked in a room at school, which he found incredibly upsetting.”

The Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union said in some circumstances pupils had to be removed safely from a classroom.

A spokeswoman said: “Dealing with these situations is incredibly difficult and puts teachers under a lot of pressure - increasingly so in the context of cuts to education budgets.

“Schools need to be resourced sufficiently ... with the requisite numbers of highly skilled teaching and support staff to meet the needs of children requiring additional support, including those whose behaviour can present risks.”