How special schools should meet children’s needs: a family- carer perspective
When I saw the recent reports of restraint and seclusion I was horrified. How could this happen to these vulnerable young people? Children who may challenge those around them due to their disability require compassionate support and education by skilled staff having the right attitudes and values within a safe environment.
I have been a governor at a community special school for something like 25 years. Our children, all 150 of them, have a range of complex needs such as a severe learning disability, autism, epilepsy, a wide range of other health needs and behaviour that may challenge those around them. Despite their very high support needs I believe it to be very unlikely that any of these pupils have ever been restrained, segregated or secluded inappropriately.
Why am I certain of this? Our school, like many, many others, maintains very high standards of staff training, support and supervision to make sure that the needs of our pupils are our foremost priority. If we provide the right infrastructure children can flourish.
Individual pupil support plans identify in great detail what we need to do to ensure that the environment, support and the curriculum are tailored to meet the specific needs of our pupils. By paying attention to detail like this we are able to reduce their anxiety, frustration and the likelihood that they may challenge.
Even with the best planning and support there could be occasions when pupils may become unsettled and this can happen for many reasons in any environment. All pupils likely to challenge will have an individual behaviour support plan that provides strategies and information to help with de-escalation should it happen to make sure that care is consistent and appropriate. School leaders have a proactive role in this to ensure that plans are kept up to date and that staff have the relevant information and support.
A high level of routine staff training covers a wide range of topics including communication, positive behaviour and health and safety. The result is a confident and competent school community working together for the benefit of each and every child.
The restraint and seclusion report was and is deeply troubling and we must all do what we can to highlight appalling practice wherever it occurs and promote high standards of care as well as education in all our schools.