Former residents of Fullerton House near Doncaster came to us to help them claim compensation after they experienced abuse at the recently closed children’s home.
Fullerton House which was part of the Hesley Group and also operated Wilsic Hall and Wheatley House, were all specialist homes for disabled children. Concerns were first raised after whistleblowers alerted Doncaster Council to the conditions that children were suffering at these Children’s homes.
Further information from the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel found that all three schools run by Hesley Group had serious failures including a culture of physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and sexual harm. The review exposed the abuse and harm caused to some of the most vulnerable children in society, with findings prompting a national review to understand how such a large number of children came to suffer such serious neglect and abuse while at these schools.
Local authorities have now been asked to review all complaints relating to registered children’s homes in the last three years to check whether they have been properly investigated. A further report due in Spring 2023, will explore what changes are needed to improve protection for the most vulnerable and disabled children.
The report follows the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) which published its own findings about residential schools. The report found that children with disabilities were three times more likely to suffer abuse, despite there being less convictions for abuse at specialist schools. The inquiry noted that the structure of regulation was too complex and that the changes to guidance over time, are not sufficiently understood.
It is recommended that all residential special schools such as those which were operated by Hesley Group should adhere to and be inspected against the same quality standards which apply to children’s homes. The inquiry also highlighted that there should be a legal duty on special schools to report any concerns to the relevant inspectorate. If this had been in place at Fullerton House, there would have been no need for a whistleblower.
There is an ongoing investigation into former members of staff by South Yorkshire Police who are encouraging anyone with similar complaints to come forward and report their experiences. Meanwhile the Hesley Group has closed all three schools, including the dismissal of some of its employees.
Switalskis represents many survivors of abuse. Our team of lawyers have significant experience of working with survivors and have all been trauma-trained to better understand and support our clients. If you would like to have a confidential chat please call our free, confidential child abuse helpline on 0800 138 4700 or contact us via our website.
Safeguarding children with disabilities and complex health needs in residential settings
The Residential Schools Investigation