BBC reports on abuse and neglect of children with learning disabilities at a special school

The BBC have reported on the abuse and neglect of 39 children with learning disabilities at Whitefield School in London from 2014-2017.

Today (30th April) the BBC reported on the abuse and neglect of 39 children with learning disabilities at Whitefield School in London from 2014-2017.  

Staff were filmed hitting, kicking and pushing pupils. 

The report describes how children were locked alone in Whitefield’s “calming rooms” for up to 4 hours. The rooms were bare and without natural light, and one room was a former stationary cupboard. Pupils were often alone in the rooms for hours, with footage showing them naked, sitting in urine and eating crumbs off the floor.  

A whistleblower has contacted the BBC due to concerns that the school’s investigation of the abuse had been a whitewash. Concerns raised by the whistleblower include the school failing to take disciplinary action against staff who abused children and failing to make referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service.  

In response to the report Viv Cooper, CEO of the CBF says:  

“Our thoughts are with the children, young people and their families who were subjected to horrific abuse and neglect at Whitefield School. School should be a safe place for every child and not a place where they are harmed with physical injuries and long-lasting psychological trauma due to the actions of staff.  

We fully support Dame Rachel de Souza’s recommendation that a referral is made to the national safeguarding board to review the learning, and it needs to consider the parallels with the Hesley investigation and reports.  

Current guidance and safeguards are inadequate to protect children and young people from avoidable harm through the misuse of restrictive practices. Despite the Department for Education previously acknowledging that change is needed to safeguard children against restrictive practices, such as the use of locked rooms, no timetable has been set for those changes. Failing to take action and implement reform exposes children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities to an unacceptable level of risk.” 

Read the BBC article here  

If you are concerned about your family member please click here. 


Family Support Service 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this statement, you can call the Family Support Service on 0300 666 0126 

Or email us at 

We are open at the following times: 

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 9am – 3pm 

We offer information about challenging behaviour to anyone who provides support to a child, young person or adult with a severe learning disability. We can also signpost you to other specialist organisations and sources of information. 

Please note we are a small support service so you may not be able to get support straight away. We will support families with urgent concerns as a priority. 

Professionals are also welcome to contact the CBF.