The Use of Seclusion.
A guest blog from a very experienced mum who was shocked to have been caught out. She wanted to warn others so they could learn from her experience and she shared the information below on social media. Straight away others commented to say how important they felt it was that this information is shared more widely. So here is it (with permission from the contributors) for more people to consider – particularly parents who are looking at specialist schools for children with autism.
This is the advice she shared:
“Anyone here looking at special schools make sure you ask to see ALL rooms used for seclusion within the school. Ask to see ALL policies related to seclusion and restraint and make sure you know exactly the approach the staff have to behaviour management.
Don’t let good or outstanding Ofsted make you think everything’s what you’d expect.
I understand that children are allowed by law to be placed in seclusion and the door held shut and that the school does not even have to report it. I understand there is absolutely no protection against abuse of the guidelines the Education Department have written around seclusion and that it’s open to interpretation (see here) “exceptional circumstances” can be defined locally I believe. I believe that the Education Policies were originally written for mainstream schools with no regard for the application in special schools and the ramifications that could have.
Experience has taught me that reporters, solicitors and many large organisations are well aware of the wide spread use of unethical seclusion and are campaigning to have guidelines re written. Currently the single biggest issue is that all cases are brought to light retrospectively and so can never be pursued as a current case against children’s human rights.
Families affected by unethical use of seclusion are afraid to speak out. They feel they can’t because as soon as safe guarding risks are reported they fear that professionals will close ranks, using these guidelines as their protection.
Start asking questions guys… and if your child has been restrained or secluded at school – ask why and how and what is going to change for that child…we all know challenging behaviour sometimes needs a response that is difficult to be part of, but absolutely restraint and seclusion can and should be done correctly.
I don’t believe that currently there are criteria or guidelines for what a safe seclusion room should look like. It could literally be a box room with concrete walls and floor. Literally a concrete cell.
Believe me it’s happening. So asks questions and demand answers. There are schools out there that don’t take this approach, so if its not what you want for your child I suggest you seek these out.
I can’t speak as freely as I’d like to, but maybe me saying this might give a parent the chance I wasn’t given to be aware of these practices and ask the questions that matter to me and my child.
After all you can’t know what you don’t know.
But now I do.
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“I think this needs to be said over and over again. Because of your experience I asked questions about a potential school’s policies last week. Their response was immediately defensive. It rang alarm bells for me. We ruled them out pretty quickly. These questions have to be asked and we must not be afraid to reject people and places who cannot manage behaviour with care.”
“I have visited a few schools recently and most had them some empty room with a couple of cushions some were like cupboards. My son was shut in one without a door handle once in mainstream safe to say we have had problems ever since with him being left alone in a room”
“This isn’t applicable to our circumstances but wow it has opened my eyes and I’m sure your post will help LOTS of parents. You’re obviously being closed with your situation but I just want to say I hope things have been made right for your child”
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The extract below is taken from this DfE Guidance