Teacher repeatedly locked autistic youngster in empty classroom at special needs school - The Leamington Observer

Teacher repeatedly locked autistic youngster in empty classroom at special needs school

Leamington Editorial 28th Feb, 2019   0

A TEACHER repeatedly locked an autistic youngster in an empty classroom at his special needs school.

The south Warwickshire boy was nine years old when the teacher at his unnamed school began locking him in a room on his own when he got ‘out of hand’.

The practice is known as seclusion and sees the pupil restrained against their will. It is illegal in schools in the UK but permitted in prisons and mental health facilities.

The boy is now 13 and his parents say he has never recovered from the trauma, leaving him with a school phobia and needing to be home educated.

His mum – who does not wish to be named – only discovered what had been happening after the school’s headteacher visited the family at home.

She said it suddenly made sense why her son would run and hide every morning before he had to go to school.

The incident took place in 2014 and was revealed in a new Coventry University report highlighting concerns of parents of vulnerable children.

The mum told the Observer: “Our son had been becoming more and more unsettled and was in a state of high anxiety each morning. He was telling us he was being put in a room but we assumed that was maybe for some time out and was of course supervised. We put our total trust in the expertise of a specialist school.

“It seems because our child was very bright the teacher was unable to keep him occupied, therefore he was bored and frustrated.

“The easiest option was to remove him from the classroom and lock him up when he became a handful as a form of discipline.”

The teacher was investigated by the school and sacked, and the family later discovered the teacher had also been barred from teaching or working with children again.

But they say the damage had already been done as they felt the need to withdraw their child from the school system.

The mum added: “The incident has had a huge ongoing affect on the whole family. For at least three years my child spoke about the trauma on a daily basis and still has issues with doors being closed or feeling locked in.

“It has caused a complete lack of trust in people in a position of authority.

“We believe this incident has generated anger issues and difficulty distinguishing between fight and flight responses when anxiety occurs due to being unable to escape a locked room.”

And she does not believe her son was the only one to have been treated in the same harsh and illegal way.

She added: “I have come across numerous stories of children being locked in isolation rooms in both mainstream and special schools and I’m very concerned about the use of physical restraint on vulnerable children. I know we are not alone in this experience.”

Warwickshire County Council says it looks into all claims involving children through its Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub.

A spokeswoman said: “The council is committed to putting children at the heart of all we do and ensuring they are safe and protected. Any claims of safeguarding breaches are thoroughly investigated by all relevant agencies and the appropriate steps are taken.”

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