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Autistic Student Illegally searched

A year 8 student who attends Edgarwood Academy that opened in September 2021 has become a victim of an illegal search by a member of teaching staff Ms Dobson who loaned him a school tie because he left the house without his but in return the teacher requested something of “value” from the student.

Edgarwood Academy (Heywood Old Rd, Middleton, Heywood OL10 2QN)

Ms Dobson took the students blazer and started to search his pockets for something of value this was not in-line with the school policy which can only be carried out when a teacher has a strong “reasonable suspicion” that a student has a “prohibited item” which constitutes items such as (knives, tobacco, illegal weapons) to name a few.

The teacher then decided to take the students house key which is not a prohibited item, once school had finished the teacher failed to return the house key to the autistic student which resulted in him being locked out of the house until his mother arrived home.

When his mother found out what had happened you can expect she was not happy about the situation so she phoned the school up to find out what exactly happened and wanted answers as to why her son was searched on school premises in front of another student and not in a private classroom there was also no second adult present to witness the search being carried out which as the policy states should have taken place.

Unfortunatly the mother was unable to speak to a headteacher or the teacher who carried out the search, the next day the mother and a relative attended the school in the morning to get the stolen house key back they were met by a member of staff who had a very poor attitude and acted unprofessional which fell below standards Ms Barlow.

When the mother tried getting answers and asked to speak with the headteacher or Ms Dobson the unprofessional member of staff went to find someone before she went through the door she invited the relative to take a seat when they responded “I am fine, I’ll stand” Ms barlows response to this was “why! Are you recording me” the relative responded no? I am not, she then proceeded to look for someone. Upon her return she mentioned that the headteacher Mr Martin Kojder was in meetings until 1pm.

Mr Marcin Kojder (Headteacher at Edgarwood Academy)

When the mother asked about Ms Dobson she was told that she was unavailable. This is when the mother asked for the school to return the stolen house key where Ms Barlow responded with an attitude i’ll try phone someone as she walked past the relative she again repeated “are you recording this, did you get all that” before going into the reception office when she returned she informed the mother that no one is available to get the key at the moment and asked if she could return at 1pm.

The mother explained that she could not make it as she had an appointment with her other child and told Ms Barlow that she just wants the house key back. At this stage Ms Barlow was very reluctant in returning the key. The relative stated that if the key is not returned then the police would be contacted and a report of theft and illegal search will be reported.

Ms Barlow didn’t like that response and stated in an unprofessional attitude “Excuse me, I’ll ask the questions here” the relative responded “are we going to get the key or not?” Ms Barlow eventually went to collect the stolen house key after a 10 minute wait she returned with the key in a closed hand and asked the mother “and do we have a tie?”

Once the mother handed over the school tie Ms Barlow finally handed over the house key and stated that an email would be sent with a meeting time for the next day in the morning with Ms Dobson. Unfortunatly this was later cancelled that day after a complaint was made to the CEO over the illegal search and theft of the key, a complaint was also made about the misconduct of the member of staff.

The CEO Mr Richard Ronksley emailed both the mother and relative with the following statement:

“Thank you for your email.

Having had this fully investigated I can confirm that this matter has been resolved and there is therefore no need for tomorrow’s meeting.”

Unfortunatly this was not the case as the school failed to follow the correct complaints policy or provide a reasonable resolution to the complaint he further went on to state that no further communications should be made and has now instructed a Solicitor firm Stone King LLP all emails and complaints are now being ignored by the school in relation to this incident.

The mother wants to take further action against the Edgarwood Academy for the way they treated her son and stated that the response from the school was unacceptable. The teacher is still working for the school and I fear it will only continue and get worse.

Because of the way this had been handled a complaint has now been sent to the following Ofsted, Department for Education and Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA)

The mother has stated she will also be making contact with the Educational Welfare about the incident that took place to find out what other action she can take.

The school has failed to comment on any part of the incident.

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