Girl, 12, 'locked in Kinsale School bathroom' inquiry

Kinsale School says it is taking the alleged incident involving Catrin Barnett very seriously

An investigation has begun after a girl of 12 with learning difficulties was allegedly locked in a bathroom at night in a residential school.

Catrin Barnett is a pupil at private Kinsale School at Holywell, Flintshire, which is for children who are autistic.

Her father John, of Bodedern, Anglesey, says he is furious and has only just found out about last month's incident.

Two staff have been suspended and the school says it is treating the claim "with the utmost seriousness".

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Catrin seems to be OK, when the social workers saw her yesterday, but because she can't talk, I can't really tell”

End Quote John Barnett Father of Catrin

"I'm disgusted and angry really that I wasn't told, and the fact that I was kept in the dark for so long," said Mr Barnett.

"Catrin seems to be OK, when the social workers saw her yesterday, but because she can't talk, I can't really tell."

Mr Barnett said the incident hit him particularly hard because he heard about it on the third anniversary of his wife's death.

In a statement, the school said it would do all it could during the investigation, and was co-operating fully. It said safeguarding was its top priority, it had contacted all other parents, and Mr Barnett was satisfied with its actions and the care it gave Catrin.

Graham Baker, chief operating officer for the Options Group, which runs the school, said the incident had been reported to the social worker involved with Catrin when it came to light on 1 June.

KINSALE SCHOOL STATEMENT

"We are treating this allegation with the utmost seriousness and are committed to doing everything we can whilst the investigation into this alleged incident takes place. We are fully co-operating with all the key people and professional agencies involved.

Safeguarding is our top priority and the children and families that we support are at the heart of what we do. We have contacted all other parents at Kinsale School and their placing authorities to offer support and any reassurance that is needed.

It is important to outline that Mr Barnett is also satisfied with the action taken by Kinsale School and the care that we have provided to his child.

Kinsale School was recently given the highest accolade from Estyn and awarded Autism Accredited Status (AA) by The National Autistic Society."

It was decided to refer the matter to the safeguarding meeting before informing her father, he said.

"I understand his [Mr Barnett's] position and if I was in his position I'd want to be told as soon as possible too," he said.

Until the safeguarding board decides what to do next the school was unable to do any more with its own internal investigation, he added.

"But we have reviewed all our safeguarding actions here in respect of the young people.

"We've looked at our practices and we'll continue to do so to ensure that the young people are correctly cared for and safeguarded."

Mr Baker said two members of staff were immediately suspended when the incident came to light.

'Sincere apologies'

"We've spoken to all the families [with children at the school] to assure them their young people are properly cared for, and we're doing everything we possibly can to make sure that continues," he added.

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We have reviewed all our safeguarding actions here in respect of the young people”

End Quote Graham Baker Chief operations officer Kinsale School

Anglesey council said it considered the allegations "very serious".

"The safeguarding of Anglesey children is our highest priority at all times," said council chief executive Richard Parry Jones.

He said the authority was working closely with colleagues in Flintshire as the incident occurred in a school outside Anglesey.

"We we are satisfied that a thorough investigation is being undertaken."

He added: "I would like to offer our sincere apologies to Mr Barnett that he was not informed about these allegations immediately.

"We will be conducting our own internal review into the procedures adopted in this case and we have informed the relevant authorities."

Mr Barnett will be "fully informed of any developments" and offered the council's "full support under these difficult circumstances".

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