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Deaf students 'were abused at college'

Royal School for Deaf Children Image caption The Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate was closed down on 11 December

Deaf students at a residential college suffered physical that shocked inspectors, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has revealed.

Westgate College and the Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate both shut after the trust that runs them went into administration in December.

The CQC has now published details of conditions it found at the college.

It said it had been unable to do so before because of legal action taken by the John Townsend Trust.

The CQC ordered the trust to shut down residential accommodation attached to the college on 19 November last year and 38 residents aged 19 to 22 began being moved to alternative facilities the next day.

About 500 staff were made redundant and 150 students were affected.

"What we saw at Westgate College - and what was reported to us - were shocking examples of institutionalised failings and abuse," said CQC chief inspector Andrea Sutcliffe.

"Residents were physically harmed by the very people who should have been caring for them and the leadership within the John Townsend Trust did not take sufficient steps to prevent this."

The CQC said it began receiving safeguarding alerts in June 2014.

A series of inspections found:

  • Residents being ridiculed for their physical and learning disabilities
  • A resident had a hot cup of tea place on their arm and was then goaded by a staff member
  • A fire exit could not be used because the key was lost
  • A cupboard containing hazardous chemicals was accessible to residents
  • Serious medication errors were made
  • On one occasion four staff members were dismissed and their behaviour investigated by the police but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to charge them

The trust appealed against the closure order but the appeal was rejected by a tribunal.

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