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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Deaf school report alleges abuse
The Royal Schools
The Royal Schools has some 78 children
A report into allegations about a respected residential school for deaf children in Greater Manchester claims to have found that there was abuse.

It is claimed that the Royal Schools for the Deaf in Cheadle Hulme had a culture of neglect.

The school denies the allegations.

Helpline number for parents
0207 250 0123
The child protection charity, the NSPCC, began an investigation last May after social services in Stockport, the borough in which the school is based, received a number of allegations from former members of staff.

Details of its report are being kept confidential, but it is said to conclude that there was neglect and the inappropriate use of restraint by staff on pupils.

It is said there were unexplained physical injuries and concerns about the use and regulation of medication.

The Royal Society for Deaf Children has set up a helpline for worried parents.

'Changes needed'

The NSPCC's North West children's manager, Alan Sale, said: "All child care matters are, of course, paramount to the NSPCC and we have found the conclusions of this report very disturbing."

It found serious problems with practices within the school and said immediate improvements in management, standards of care, record keeping and use of medicines were required.

The NSPCC and the National Deaf Children's Society are working together to try to bring about changes.

The deaf children's society said it had not advised parents to withdraw their children, but at present was not recommending that anyone send their children there until a 21-point action plan drawn up by the social services was put into effect.

A school spokesman said: "Four staff have been suspended which is in line with common practice.

"Until we have read the report we cannot say what will happen. The police have not brought any prosecutions."

Allegations denied

But the school denies neglect and the allegations of unexplained injuries, saying that it believes in encouraging independence in children with often a multitude of problems as well as deafness.

It has already implemented interim recommendations made in an earlier report, including employing a child welfare liaison officer. A new tier of management is being introduced to oversee standards and practices.

Although the school is in Stockport it serves education and health authorities and social service departments throughout the British Isles, taking students aged six to 21.

Stockport's social services director, Jean Daintith, who also chairs the area's child protection committee, said: "Problems of this nature cannot be allowed to continue and the Stockport child care agencies will ensure that practices at the school are radically improved.

"The school provides a valuable regional resource but its future existence is likely to depend on the willingness of the trustees and staff to accept the need for change and translate it into action."

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