Pupil was allowed to cut himself with razor blades at special school
TODAY’S lesson is self-harm. At Unsted Park School, Godalming, Surrey, the teachers, reportedly, have allowed a pupil with a history of self-harm controlled access to razor blades. Not to worry, though, because the blades were sterilised. Safety first, readers.
Principal Steve Dempsey and headteacher Laura Blair face allegations of unacceptable professional conduct.
What do we know of the school? It’s run by the Priory Group, the people most famous for their treatment of addictions. And:
Unsted Park School provides specialist education for boys and girls aged 7 to 19 with Asperger’s Syndrome, higher functioning autism and associated disorders. It is our aim to allow all our young people to thrive effectively within an ever demanding and complex society. Students have ambitions to live and work as self-reliant adults and we can help pupils to reach their goals with continued support, structure and guidance.
Unsted Park Sixth Form is specifically designed to allow young people aged 16 to 19 with Asperger’s Syndrome, higher functioning autism and associated learning difficulties to build a post 16 curriculum that is tailored to their individual needs and ambitions.
The focus of the whole school approach is in three core areas: education, independence and integration. Based on these core areas we provide individual, child-centred programmes which recognise individual abilities and strengths and help students to reach their full potential.
The school teaches:
Imaginative and flexible thinking
Nick Edmondson writes:
According to the controlled self-harm procedure, handed out to staff but aborted after just six days, the pupil would be escorted to a bathroom and allowed to carry out self-harm in a “safe and controlled manner”.
Teachers would wait outside the bathroom while the pupil was inside, checking on them every two minutes. The wounds would then be dressed and cleaned by staff.
Imaginative and flexible. You betcha.
But the policy didn’t last a week.
A Priory Group spokesman tells us:
“We are always willing to review cases with the Teaching Agency. This was a short-term, local procedure introduced by the headteacher and school principal who genuinely believed it was in the best interests of the pupil. However, they accept that the procedure should not have been implemented without further approvals having been obtained from key stakeholders and senior management prior to its introduction.”
Before we damn them all, a spokesperson from charity Selfharm.co.uk adds some background:
“The issue of controlled self-harm has proven to be effective in some areas, but only under the correct supervision. Self-harm is sometimes the safest option for a young person – if they’re using self-harm to make life a bit easier to manage (for example) then taking it away from them without replacing it with something else can actually bring on a desperate kind of depression that could make them slide from self-harm to having suicidal ideation.
“I’d rather someone be self-harming in a way they can manage as safely as possible than be left stranded with no way to cope and be thinking about more desperate measures.”
It’s a behaviour management strategy. It’s complicated.
One question, though: did the child’s parents agree to it?