‘Excessive force’ probe at Sheffield school amid claim boy received bruises and bleeding lip after being restrained

The Rowan School, Dore.
The Rowan School, Dore.
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AN INVESTIGATION is underway over an allegation ‘excessive restraining force’ was used against a disabled 10-year-old boy at a Sheffield special school.

Sheffield Council safeguarding children board was alerted by paediatricians after the child was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Doctors said the lad - whose identity is being protected in line with his family’s wishes - had injuries consistent with ‘excessive restraining force’.

Medical notes submitted to the board said the boy - who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and extreme anxiety disorder - received bruises to the arm, shoulder and neck.

He also had a bleeding lip which doctors said may have been caused by ‘a hand with a ring on it’, and scratch marks which indicated an attempt to hold his head.

Documentation seen by The Star shows 11 staff members at Rowan Special Primary School were involved in restraining the child on November 16.

Sheffield Council said it could not comment on the case under investigation, but stressed ‘the safety and wellbeing of all children in every school is a top priority’.

The boy’s mum said: “They rang me from school and asked me to come and get him because they couldn’t control him.

“When I got there he was in a heap on the floor with an arm that he couldn’t move.

“They had been restraining him for three hours.”

She said it was the fourth time she had to take her son to hospital, and claimed a school log reveals he had previously been restrained 312 times.

The council and police have been called in to investigate the allegations at The Rowan, which caters for 63 children with special needs in Durvale Court, Dore.

She said: “He has been out of school for four months now and the local education authority haven’t provided for his needs.

“I feel that social services have done a good job in their part of the investigation but the whole process over the years has failed him.

“These are some of the most vulnerable children out there. If this happened in a mainstream school there would be uproar.

“Safety for any child should be a priority need - but for my child it seems to be an optional extra.”

National guidelines published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families allow teachers to use force in certain circumstances.

They say force “may be necessary” when a pupil’s behaviour is likely to cause injury or damage or they are have attacked a member of staff or another pupil.

Teachers are also allowed to use force when a child tries to leave the classroom or when a pupil is seriously disrupting a lesson.

Professionals who deal with vulnerable children are often trained in ‘positive handling’ techniques to ‘de-escalate’ violent situations.

A spokeswoman for Sheffield Council and The Rowan confirmed the safeguarding board was aware of the child’s case. She said: “We cannot comment on individual cases, especially when there are ongoing enquiries.

“The safety and wellbeing of all children in every school is a top priority and schools invest a great deal of time and commitment into ensuring this happens.

“The council works with schools and other agencies to ensure young people are kept safe from harm and we adhere to strict guidance on how to prevent children harming themselves or others.

“Clearly we aim for all young people to be in school at all times during the term and schools and the local authority remain committed to supporting children, young people and their families in achieving this.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “Officers are currently investigating an incident at a primary school in Dore. Enquiries are ongoing to establish if any offence has occurred.”