Autistic pupil kept locked in padded room at school

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A severly autistic pupil was kept in a padded room at his school up to six times a day, it has been revealed.

The boy’s mother has spoken out after winning the right to have both the local authority and the Bamber Bridge school where he was a pupil named and shamed for the first time, following a damning court ruling about his care last year.

A judge lifted an anonymity order preventing Wigan Council being named as the authority responsible for referring the then 15-year-old boy to Beech Tree School, in Meadow Lane, where staff locked him in the so-called “blue room” more than six times a day to control his behaviour without seeking a court order to deprive him of his liberty.

The furious mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “It has been hell. I was on the point of suicide. I didn’t want to go to court. I didn’t want that but no one was listening to me.”

The pupil, now 19, started going to the special school, which is run by charity Scope, around four years ago.

His mum said she was forced to take legal action last summer after repeatedly finding her son “locked” in his padded room on her daily visits to the £250,000 a year school, which is set to close.

The mum, a former nurse, said her son has challenging behaviour but was sent to Beech Tree after a package of care and education had been agreed with Wigan Council and the school.

The case ended in the Family Court with Mr Justice Ryder ruling Wigan Council’s treatment was unlawful.

Ruth Sutherland, executive director of services at Scope, said: “We are really sorry. This is a terrible situation. We are sorry we did not recognise early enough that we were not the right people to help and that we tried too long and hard.”

Wigan Council’s director of specialist and targeted services, Anne Goldsmith, said: “We are delighted that this young man is making progress as this was always our aim.

“We took expert advice on the how best to care for this young man and tried to secure the best provider for him. The package of care at his residential school was implemented with the approval of the court and by his family.

“The council has agreed a sum of compensation.”