Dismay at report on locking up children with disabilities

Hervey Bay mother Kelly-Ann Brooks and her 10-year-old son Tate Smith are disappointed with the government recommendations.
Hervey Bay mother Kelly-Ann Brooks and her 10-year-old son Tate Smith are disappointed with the government recommendations. Alistair Brightman

THE mother of a child who was locked in a cell-like room for time-outs at a Hervey Bay primary school wants a State Government review to ban the practice totally.

The incident involving her autistic son Tate Smith triggered a State Government review and the appointment of a department "watchdog" to oversee the education of children with disabilities in Queensland.

The review has found that the restrictive practice experienced by Tate should be used as a measure of last resort to prevent harm to staff and students.

But Tate's mum Kelly-Ann Brooks said she was disappointed the review did not go further and call for an all-out prohibition on the use of restrictive practices on children with special needs.

"It should be banned all together, especially locking kids in these little rooms in the dark, it is a breach of their human rights."

Ms Brooks said Tate, who is now 10 and has moved to Urangan Point State School, is thriving at his new school.

"This school has never once had to restrain or secure or isolate Tate," she said.

It has been revealed that one in four parents of a student with a disability believes their child has been restrained at school, according to the new independent report that has called for an overhaul of the way teachers deal with challenging students.

The report by Deloitte Access Economics raises serious concerns about the way restrictive practices like restraint and seclusion are used to manage students with disabilities in Queensland state schools.

The review was commissioned by the Queensland government after The Courier Mail revealed Tate had been repeatedly locked in a cell-like room for time-outs.

The panel heard from staff at one unnamed school that students were being placed in a locked room under supervision.

It was also told of another case where a student was placed into an enclosed locked yard.

"This review finds that restrictive practice should be used as a measure of last resort to prevent harm to staff and students," the review says.

"The entire schooling system should be geared towards eliminating the use of restrictive practices," it says.

The review recommends clear guidelines be given to teachers about the use of any restrictive practices, and all incidents involving the restraint or seclusion of students be logged centrally.

Education Minister Kate Jones will today announce the creation of a new senior position within her Department to oversee the education of children with disabilities.

The new Assistant Director-General for disabilities and inclusion will be responsible for implementing all the recommendations of the independent review, including boosting support for schools and providing graduate teachers with more training.

"We'll be delivering on that recommendation by providing additional professional development for teachers and assisting them to make use of the latest research and data to support students with diverse learning needs,.

"The education of students with a disability is everybody's business and every teacher in every school has a role to play," the Queensland Education Minister said.

Topics:  editors picks education fceducation news

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