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Suffolk County Council launches review into Riverwalk School in Bury St Edmunds after parents raise concerns about children's welfare

A council has launched a review into current practices and safeguarding at a Bury St Edmunds special school after parents raised concerns about children’s welfare.

Riverwalk School is currently under investigation by Suffolk County Council, which is responsible for the school, after claims of children being left in the same nappy for eight hours, returning home with unexplained injuries and not being fed properly.

One parent, who wants to remain anonymous, claimed that his daughter had ended up in A&E after having a bad fall at the school a few weeks ago.

Riverwalk School, Riverwalk Campus, Mayfield Road, Bury St Edmunds Picture Mark Westley. (5082327)
Riverwalk School, Riverwalk Campus, Mayfield Road, Bury St Edmunds Picture Mark Westley. (5082327)

“She’s probably the most vulnerable child at the school and she has been passed from one temporary teacher to another who aren’t aware of what she is like or the level of care she needs,” he said.

“I’m happy to work with the school because all we want to see is improvements made. There is no doubt in my mind that staff are doing an incredible job but whether they’ve been left short with funding, I don’t know.

“At the end of the day, all I care about is that my daughter is safe, healthy and happy and we as a society have to work harder to make sure that’s the case for all children.”

Another anonymous parent raised concerns that her child’s care plan was not being followed and that she wasn’t being notified of falls and accidents at the school after noticing minor cuts and grazes.

One father claimed that his son was not being changed or fed during the school day.

“He’s coming home at 4pm and he’s in the same nappy he was wearing at 8am. He can’t speak much so teachers need to be looking out for these things,” he said.

“We also know he’s not eating during the school day because at the end of the day his lunch box still has all the food and drink in it. I know that one of the characteristics of my son is that he doesn’t eat well but we don’t think they’re making much effort to encourage him.”

Cllr Jack Abbott, spokesperson for children’s services, education and skills, criticised the county council’s handling of the issue and said that ‘action is being taken far too slowly’.

“These are pupils with severe and complex learning needs but far too many parents are saying that their children are not receiving the education or standard of care that they need,” he said.

“Suffolk County Council have to do far better in properly engaging with these families, stop delaying and commit to carrying out a full, transparent and independent safeguarding review immediately.”

But Cllr Gordon Jones, cabinet member for education and skills, said children’s safety and wellbeing was a ‘key priority’ and that he had met with parents to discuss their concerns.

“We are providing specific support to individual families where this is needed, as well as taking wider action in the best interests of the children at the school,” he said. “We have begun a review of current practices with the headteacher and alongside this an independent safeguarding review is arranged to take place during this term. Parents will be invited to contribute to this.”

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