Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Autistic Pupil Was ‘Caged’

Below is an enclosed play area that the Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) constructed as a safe play area for a teenage pupil with learning difficulties and autism, at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, on Lewis.
Described as a "cage" by local SNP MSP Alasdair Allan, it has since been removed.

The pupil's parents, who raised funds to help cover the costs of a safe outdoor area which they hoped would include decking and play equipment, said they were "deeply upset" to see what had been constructed.

The Council said that it wanted to apologise unreservedly to the family.

Constructed from old barriers and bog-standard fence-posts he admitted that it represented “a failure on the part of the council to consider this young man's needs."
And then, in an attempt to deflect criticism, Mr Allan went on to say that the pupil's parents were full of praise for his teachers.

This excuse was further extended by councillor Norman MacDonald, vice chairman of the policy and resources committee, who said that the enclosure was the result of a communication breakdown between staff and the supplier over the specifications of what was needed.

But here's the thing.
Mr Allan also said: "Some months ago, the parents were deeply upset to see what had been constructed.”

"Some months ago”!!!

The enclosure was taken down over the past two weeks. But unfortunately for the Council it has made the news.

There is absolutely no excuse for this. Distressing to the family, and an affront to human dignity, this council wants to have a good look at itself.

This is the sort of thing that is only too common within local authorities where the culture of incompetence seems as rife as ever.