Investigation after claims autistic boy was dragged kicking and screaming into room and locked inside at Aberdeenshire school

CLAIMS: Sharon Gardner has been home schooling Fraser since October last year following concerns over the way he was treated at Strathburn School
April 12, 2017, 12:11 pm
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Investigation after claims autistic boy was dragged kicking and screaming into room and locked inside at north-east school
A Scottish council is being investigated after claims staff carried an autistic boy kicking and screaming into a room before locking him inside.
Sharon Gardner has been home schooling Fraser since October last year following concerns over the way he was treated at Strathburn School in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire.
In February the eight-year-old told his mum how he would be locked in a “quiet room” at the school with no toilet – and be left kicking and screaming.
She also found out the school refused to give him a small box of toys she put together to distract him while in the room as staff believed this would be “rewarding bad behaviour”.
And on a number of occasions, Sharon said she collected Fraser from the room only to find he had urinated himself – and on one occasion defecated himself.
The Scottish Services Ombudsman (SPSO) are currently investigating Aberdeenshire Council over claims they did not handle her complaints appropriately.
And earlier this month Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney responded to a letter from Sharon and her MSP apologising for the way Fraser was treated.
Sharon said: “I took him out of school last October because he was extremely anxious there. It wasn’t until February he told me what had been happening and I complained to the council.
“We had been out for a walk when he told me. They had this room at the school, a quiet room.
“There was nothing in it and we’d get calls saying he was upset so I would go in and get him. He was never locked in when I went but he was terrified of this room.
“On many occasions he had urinated and in one instance defecated.
“I made a box full of his things which would calm him down but when I later asked if it had helped him at all I was told the headteacher at the time said he couldn’t have it because it was rewarding bad behaviour.
“He was in distress in there. He told me how he liked being home schooled as he didn’t have to go in that room. I was horrified. When we got back I phoned the police but they said there wasn’t enough evidence and Fraser might find it stressful to be a witness and relive it all.”“He told me two members of staff would pick him up and carry him in, then lock him inside. He said it didn’t happen in P1 but certainly did in P2 and P3.”
Sharon Gardner has been home schooling Fraser since October last year following concerns over the way he was treated at Strathburn School
Sharon Gardner has been home schooling Fraser since October last year following concerns over the way he was treated at Strathburn School
Sharon logged a complaint to Aberdeenshire Council but claims they mishandled her complaint.
In her SPSO complaint, she said: “At times my son has expressed suicidal thoughts due to what has happened to him at school, feeling that he is worthless and there is no point in living. I am horrified that people that I trusted with my son’s wellbeing and that had a duty of care towards thought it was ever appropriate to treat him like this and not to tell me.
“I am disgusted that the council has not acknowledged that what happened was wrong, apologised to my son, and guaranteed that no other child will be treated in the same way.
“What outcome do you want us to achieve for you? I want the council to apologise to me and to my son. I want them to tell parents what they are doing to their children.
“I want them to ensure staff are properly trained. I want them to stop locking children into isolation rooms as per the UNCRC recommendations.
“I want them to deal with complaints by actually answering the complaint rather than ignoring the questions.”
Strathburn Primary School, Inverurie
Strathburn Primary School, Inverurie
As well as being diagnosed with autism, Fraser has sensory issues and has been deemed too high functioning to attend an additional support needs school.
During his earlier years at the school he was excluded several times which Sharon said staff claimed was due to “challenging behaviour”.
In a letter from John Swinney to Gillian Martin MSP for Aberdeenshire East, he wrote: “I am sorry to hear that your constituent’s son, Fraser had these experiences in school and that he has been distressed as a result. The Scottish Government will shortly publish refreshed guidance on the management of exclusion from school ‘Included, Engaged and Involved: Part 2. A Positive Approach to Preventing and Managing School Exclusions’. As part of that guidance the issue of restraint and seclusion is addressed and placed firmly within the context of the management of relationships and behaviour and de-escalation.”
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said they would not be commenting while an investigation is underway. However, they contacted Sharon earlier this month to inform her that they would be arranging for an individual from outside of Aberdeenshire Council to review her concerns independently.
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said: “Constituents have been in touch regarding their concerns over a matter last year which I have taken forward. We must allow for any investigation to take its course before presenting any findings. It would be inappropriate to comment on the matter further until such time.”
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeenshire/1219559/investigation-amid-claims-autistic-boy-dragged-kicking-screaming-room-locked-inside-north-east-school/

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