A residential school at the centre of allegations of child abuse is
Glasgow Council announced the closure of Kerelaw School, Ayrshire,
after claims of inappropriate physical restraint of children with
emotional and behavioural difficulties.
The council and Strathclyde police are investigating the
allegations and 23 staff have been suspended or redeployed. The
school provides care and secondary education for up to 50 pupils in
its open school and four residential units.
An investigation by the Care Commission and education inspectorate
found many staff had not been trained to use safe restraint.
The investigation found workers had only a “rudimentary” knowledge
of child protection issues, resulting in “major weaknesses” in
practices to ensure children felt safe and secure.
Some young people were without an identified rights or advocacy
worker, and were often unable to make confidential
It also highlighted low staff morale, with many workers “insecure”
about the management’s failure to clarify strategies to deal with
The investigation began in August 2004 after a series of complaints
and allegations by residents and staff. In addition to closing the
open school, the council is to withdraw from managing the secure
Council leader Charlie Gordon said the authority would look for
alternative placements for the 16 young people attending the open
school as “a matter of urgency”. He added:”The welfare of the young
people in our care is the priority.”
Kathryn Stone, director of learning difficulties charity Voice UK,
called for greater guidance for care staff on using physical
She said: “It’s incredibly sad that in 2004 we are seeing staff
working with vulnerable children who are not trained in the correct
ways of managing challenging behaviour.
“Physical restraint should be used only as a last resort, when
children are posing a risk to themselves or others.
“We now have many policies in place to protect children with
behavioural and learning difficulties, but they need to be
implemented and monitored frequently or children will be at risk.”