Top residential school for deaf children under threat

A leading residential school for deaf and disabled children is
under threat of closure unless major changes are made to its
“culture and ethos”, according to Stockport Council.

A year-long child protection investigation carried out by the
NSPCC for Stockport severely criticised the Royal Schools for the
Deaf Manchester (RDSM) about allegations of abuse between 1995 and

Four members of staff were suspended last year and police
investigations resulted in five cases being passed to the Crown
Prosecution Service. The CPS has rejected four of the cases.

The full NSPCC report is confidential, but the school has agreed
to implement a 21-point action plan published by the council.

“The school provides a valuable regional resource but its future
existence is likely to depend on the willingness of the trustees,
governors and staff to accept the need for change and translate it
into action,” said Jean Daintith, Stockport Council’s director of
social services and area child protection committee

According to Daintith, the report found that children’s injuries
were not reported to parents, carers and placing authorities. It
also found: poor recording of possible child protection matters;
failure to implement procedures; inadequate supervision of children
by staff; and concerns over medical policies and practices.

“The major problem is the culture and ethos, which means the
whole governance needs to be reviewed with a clear separation of
the trustees from the governing body. The chief executive needs to
be able to lead on the changes that he agrees are needed,” added

Under the action plan, RDSM must produce a weekly report for the
council on all pupil injuries; it must not employ staff with
certain criminal convictions and must effectively supervise all
staff and train them in suitable restraint procedures. In addition,
the school’s head of care should also receive formal weekly
supervision for six months from a professional with experience of
children with disabilities in residential care.

RDSM’s development manager Dominic Tinner said the school had
received overwhelming support from parents and no children had been

“I’m not saying we’re spotless. There are improvements we need
to make,” he added. The school had appointed a child protection and
family liaison officer and parents’ representatives were now on the
governing body, he said.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has set up an emergency
helpline for parents and suggests they visit their children
“unannounced on random occasions and at different times”.

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