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Is this abusive - what do you think?

(49 Posts)
direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 19:32:47

If a LSA wrote to you telling you that she had "dunked" your child (aged 3.5)in the swimming pool at school, what would you think?

Chundle Wed 01-Jun-11 19:38:06

I would be pissed right off whether my child was 3.5 or 12.5! They have no right! Only person who will ever dunk my child is me- their mother! Think what could've potentially gone wrong??!! What was their reason for this????

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 19:42:12

Well the school deny it happenned, stating only the mouth and nose were put under the water and that this is part of the approach they use. I did not know anything about the approach until months after the event and the LSA maintained to my husband that he was dunked and that the school's description is not correct.

My child has issues with his ears and was also waiting grommets at the time, I don't think I would ever have agreed to "dunking" but certainly not when he had these difficulties. he ended up in hospital with febrile convulsions a few weeks later, there was evidence of perforation to his ear drum.

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 19:43:21

I meant to say that my child has complex needs including cerebral palsy and could not either physically resist nor consent verbally at the time.

Al1son Wed 01-Jun-11 20:14:54

Obviously the details are pretty sketchy but I cannot imagine a situation where it would be acceptable to put a child's mouth and nose under water against his will. Whether it was dunking or not I think you need to get some answers from someone about what has been going on.

I would be taking it above the level of the headteacher if I wasn't satisfied with what I heard.

leiela Wed 01-Jun-11 20:17:06

I think it's disgusting, it must have been terrifying.

I would be fuming.

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 20:18:46

Headteacher has allegedly "investigated", she looked at the wrong date, didn't talk to relevent people and the chair of the govenors refuses to progress this through the complaints process.

Chundle Wed 01-Jun-11 20:22:28

Even just putting mouth and nose under water is dangerous IMO - particulary of a child which complex needs it could've led to them aspirating the water or anything. Very very bad practice especially when the child cannot tell you if they are feeling scared/uncertain etc. I would complain to the hilt until you get some answes

Al1son Wed 01-Jun-11 20:23:08

In that case you need to approach the LA or Ofsted. If this is as serious as it sounds like it could be you should take it as far as you need to.

eandz Wed 01-Jun-11 20:28:17

OMG! I don't even have words.

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 20:31:33

OK more of the story, glad you are coming up with what I have already done, it gives me reassurance that I have acted as other parents would.

LA don't want to know. They think I am being in some way vindictive. I emailed the area mnanager who was my child's lead professional, the director of children's services and head of service were also copied in. NONE of them got back to me. I have a stage three complaint about this currently. Stage 2 appears to conclude that I am a pain in the neck who has overreacted (my summary of the report - not the actual wording).

Ofsted also do NOT want to know, stating it's outside of their powers, this is contrary to letters from Sarah Teather (via my MP) advising me to approach Ofsted. This has been going on for 17 months now.......anyone got any more suggestions of where I can go next, my son no longer attends the school judged as "outstanding" by Ofsted. Other parents probably still don't know about the swimming practices at the school.

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 20:33:09

Can i also ask, does anyone feel there would be any different response were my child not disabled? I don;t think there should be any difference but cannot imagine this would be the outcome of such an event in a mainstream school.

leiela Wed 01-Jun-11 20:41:40

If it have happened to my NT 9 year old i would be equally as fuming, such an event could make a child scared of the water for thier entire life.

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 20:44:02

It has definately made him more wary, he started to resist even bath although this has since improved but when we go on holiday we can't get him in the pool, I'm hoping over time this will improve.

Chundle Wed 01-Jun-11 20:53:38

Could you speak to any professionals/consultants that are involves with your child an get their view on it?? Get them to write a letter (even if you have to pay for it) stating the potential danger it could've caused a child with SN and how they are unable to express their own views etc etc what about parent partnership??

Chundle Wed 01-Jun-11 20:54:39

Sorry meant to add at my dd1 mainstream school they do swim lessons and any child that doesn't want to put their face under water doesn't have to!

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 21:03:32

Chundle I don't think it matters who says what, it simply isn't going to be looked at. Sarah Teather has stated that parents should be asked to consent, she has also stated that I should contact Ofsted and has stated that she will write to the lead inspector.......still no investigation!

I didn't imagine for a minute that there would be any element of a child having to have their face or head put into the water, my son would never choose to do so, it therefore wasn't a worry to me until after the event. But he is one of the more able children in the school, what about the other physically frail young children who are non verbal who are exposed to this. What about the health risks? Yet Ofsted state it is an issue that concerns my son only????

I'm glad your school take a different approach, it's what I would expect but as a mainstream school I think that the children may be perceived as having more rights, I don't know this, I just feel that this would never have happened to my non disabled child and that if it had, I would make a complaint and it would be dealt with differently.

madwomanintheattic Wed 01-Jun-11 21:04:58

um, in our sn parents and toddlers 'swimming' class - (misnomer, none of them can actually swim, and have quite complex needs) this was entirely normal, and the parents do it themselves to the children. after the therapist pours water on their heads with a watering can. it's a standard part of the lesson. there is prep for it, and although some of the kids cry the first couple of times, after that it becomes part of the routine and they do learn to expect it/ hold their breath.

this was at a special school where dd2 had a p/t placement.

it was fine. it wasn't done in an aggressive or frightening manner.

maybe it's the connotation of the word 'dunked' that is the problem?

saladsandwich Wed 01-Jun-11 21:10:10

i would hit the roof, i mean i wouldnt like being dunked or my mouth and nose put under. could you not see a solicitor as a last resort (im not saying for financial gain or anything) bt if you think they injured your childs ears it may be worth just seeking a little bit of legal advice as they obviously see nothing wrong in what they are doing and are probabky doing it to other kids. x

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 21:11:26

Parents who do it themselves are making a choice madwomaninthe attic, I was not and nor was my son.

The manner it is done in is not the issue, intent is not the issue, the child's rights were infringed. I am not having a go at the person who did it, per se, although she should have checked with me first and I would have refused.

I am questioning that it happens without consent from either a parent or the child. I would never consent and nor would my husband as we believe this to be abusive however flowery someone may want to make it sound. I accept others may see it differently and make different choices for their child, that is THEIR chioce just as Chundle describes is the choice of children in her child's mainstream school. The other parents probably know nothing about the approach as was the position I was in.

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 21:14:20

I have prelimiinary advice saladsandwich and am likely to go for judicial review, it is very costly potentially to me (financially) and has already been extremely emotionally damaging, having to fight the agencies involved for 17 months, but I cannot let this go.

madwomanintheattic Wed 01-Jun-11 21:14:30

i agree with that - but was just letting you know that it is an accepted part of sn pool time in (at least some) special schools. so unless you withdraw your son specifically from that activity, or let the school know, they weren't to know you disagreed with a particular part of their programme.

now that they do know, i expect they will withdraw your child from that part of the lesson. so no need to take it further.

direlahere Wed 01-Jun-11 21:19:10

Madwoman, I did not know of their techniques, I'm sure others don't, I didn't imagine they would do this, are you suggesting I should have known? Surely there is a responsibility on the school to let parents know, check out children's medical history's and gain consent first not wait for parents to find out?

Sorry if this sounds like I am disagreeing strongly with you, I am not meaning to be rude - I guess seeing my son going through this and ending up having febrile convulsions means I feel pretty passionately about it. I guess the lack of an appropriate response by the agencies allegedly there to protect the vulnerable has also wound me up.

madwomanintheattic Wed 01-Jun-11 21:29:03

not suggesting you should have known. i wouldn't have had a problem iff dd2 had been 'dunked' in the manner that i 'dunked' her by an lsa if the lsa had been there instead of me. it was every swimming lesson, so every week.

(fwiw dd2 also has cerebral palsy and at the time was non verbal)

the school would surely know your son's medical history? particulary if he has an lsa if not f/t, then at least 1-1 during swimming time? if he was having problems with his ears had you discussed pool time with them? or did you not know that he was having pool time? (i only ask because particualrly hydro-pool time is sometimes on and off)

i just would have thought that if he was having ongoing ear-issues then there might have been some discussion about swimming etc.

do you have medical reports that siggest the ear problems were as a result of going under water, and not as a result of his ongoing ear issues? i wouldn't have thought the febrile convulsions were linked, but i'm not a medic. did he develop a chest infection as a result of inhaling water and that caused him to have the febrile convulsions?

sorry, i'm just guessing as you seem to be sure they are linked?

you asked for opinions whether it was abuse - i'm saying no, i don't think it's abusive. i've seen it done a lot, and all the parents i know are quite happy - some of them were reluctant initially (for the reasons you are upset) but having experienced it, they are all fine and dandy.

i'm not being deliberately obstructive - apols if it comes over that way. i just think the lsa used a jokey term 'dunked' and you have taken it the wrong way.

but it sounds as though you have a lot invested in the argument, so i assume there are other outstanding issues which are not immediately apparent.

but no, i don't think being dipped under the water gently as part of a pool lesson, is abuse, no.

Chundle Wed 01-Jun-11 21:36:57

I used to work in a scope school where we took kids to a local pool and also had our own hydro pool. At no time were we a carers or the special swimming/PE instructor ever permitted to put a child's face in water (mainly due to aspiration issues that many SN kids have). That's the rules when I was there 4 years ago anyway.

I think it's fine if parents make the choice for the child or do it as swimming class, but if a child cannot make that choice and a parent isn't asked to give permission for them then it's very wrong

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