Autism experts and campaigners are calling for regulations to safeguard vulnerable children by controlling the use of “chill-out rooms” in schools.
Also called safe rooms or time-out rooms, they have been reportedly been used by some schools to effectively seclude or punish youngsters with autism. Simon Baron Cohen, professor at Cambridge University in the fields of psychology and psychiatry, said such practices risked giving children with autism a sense that they are “failures”.
The journal Autism Eye has reported on one school installing more than 12 chill-out rooms, as well as another with “an electric, prison-like door on its room and a school using a space likened to a broom cupboard as a chill-out room”. Autism Eye is running a campaign on the issue and Robert Buckland MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPG), has described schools’ reliance on the rooms as “an admission of failure”, promising to raise the issue within the APPG.
APPG member Russell Brown told Autism Eye: “We need clearer guidelines, but if we need to take it beyond that and introduce new legislation, we must be prepared to do so.”
The full report on the Stop the Abuse of Chill-Out Rooms campaign can be read online: http://db.tt/b2N74BIl
Private vs state
There is still a distinct divide when it comes to state versus private education, with 66 per cent of people saying they would not pay for their child’s schooling, compared to 18 per cent who would. Research by Opinium Research involving more than 2,000 people found that 11 per cent were privately educated themselves. Of those who would go private, the overwhelming reason was to provide “as many opportunities as possible”. The main reasons for shunning private schools were financial or due to a belief in the ideals of a state system.
Rail safety resource
Network Rail has launched a safety education campaign to increase awareness about railway electricity. The Live Wire campaign comes alongside the electrification of a number of key routes across the North West of England between now and 2016. The first electrified line will be switched on in August. A kit includes assembly materials, lesson plans and other resources. Visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/safetyeducation
Nine in 10 young people believe work experience should be mandatory. Research from the LifeSkills Youth Barometer involving almost 2,000 14 to 25-year-olds found that more than half of them expect it to be harder to find work in six months than today. Half of the respondents said work experience improved their confidence and 32 per cent said it helped them to understand the business they worked for. Compulsory work experience for 14 to 16-year-olds was removed two years ago. LifeSkills is a skills education initiative run by Barclays. Visit: www.barclayslifeskills.com