I have been asked to draft this statement to address the trolling and harassment I have recently been subjected to.

Firstly, I would like to express how sorry I am that anyone who follows me had to be subjected to this unwelcome commentary. I hope they realise that this is none of my making.

Moving on to the substance of the abuse I have been subjected to. This has ranged from attributing to me ludicrous claims that I assert that the non-dairy product Camel Milk is a cure for autism – which is manifestly ridiculous – to stating that I have been somehow complicit in the alleged abuse of children at Baston House School. This latter claim includes an outrageous and unsubstantiated assertion that I supported the ‘inhuman treatment’ of children by having them punished and detained in a cupboard sized room. In reality, and this has been confirmed by a former staff member and a parent at the material time, that children were only taken to the sensory room in the secondary school to modulate – this being a fair-sized room with mats and a mural on the wall and a normal fire door with vision glass panels. In summary it was typical of the sensory rooms one finds in special schools.

I could go on, but I think the best response to the above is to remind everyone what Ofsted stated about the above when I had responsibilities at the Baston House School: “The management of pupils’ behaviour by staff is good. Consistent use is made of the rewards and sanctions system whereby merits are awarded for effort, behaviour and citizenship. Sanctions may include the pupils missing ‘choosing time’ or ‘golden time'”. This, of course, can be checked.

As the facts demonstrate, I stepped down as one of the statutory directors (meaning a director with specific responsibilities under the Companies Act) at Baston House School in May 2013 moving into a more group-wide marketing/ ambassador role as an employee of which Baston House School was only a small part. I was invited to attend special days at the School such as sports day, harvest festival, leavers days etc. which I openly admit I enjoyed very much.

It follows that I had no operational involvement or responsibility in Baston House School from May 2013. When I was involved in Baston House School, in relation to the suitability of staff, supply staff and proprietors (such as myself) Ofsted clearly stated “The school has clear and rigorous procedures for checking the suitability of all staff. All the required checks have been appropriately completed and are recorded in a single central register as required”. Yet again, this can be checked.

When carrying out my marketing and ambassadorial role for the Group, there was an issue over the use of what is referred to as spit hoods. I was not involved with the use of these ‘restraints’, and indeed the Options Group (who owned Baston House and other schools) not only stated publicly that this was the case, but they also confirmed that I did not agree with their use. This information is in the public domain, albeit this has not stopped people falsely insinuating for the own reasons that I supported the use of spit hoods. For completeness it should be said that I have not been involved with the group that owns Baston House School since 2019 onwards.

When I was involved in the said marketing role, I passed on any written complaints I received from parents to the School, asking them to be investigated. It follows that, as I was no longer a statutory director, I would not have seen all complaints relating to Baston House School and certainly wouldn’t have investigated them.

Recently, it was asserted by a person calling himself Mark Page that he had contacted me about a complaint regarding his son but was, he claims, ‘blocked’. It is not entirely clear what this is supposed to mean, but it is certainly the case that if had shared any such information with me, it would have been forwarded to the Head Teacher who is responsible for investigating such matters. Mr Page would have known this was the case when he read the Baston House complaints procedure.

It could be said that Mr Page may not have been familiar with the relevant procedures but given that it has recently been shared that Mr Page tried to make financial claim against the Baston House School about another matter years after his son ceased to be a pupil, one could assume that this would be unlikely. It is reasonable to say that monetary gain was clearly likely a motivator, at least on that occasion.

In any event, I am clear that Mr Page did not share any such information with me. It follows that I have no knowledge of any of Mr Page’s concerns other than what he has shared on social media. I have tried to assist Mr Page by enabling some guidance for him to follow should he wish to pursue the important matters he raised publicly, albeit it is not clear if he has done so.

It would be tempting for me to focus on the personalities motivating the intentional and systematic undermining of my desire to be committed ally to all autistic people. Having said that, this would deviate from the main point I want to get across, and this is addressed below. In any event, as far as the said individuals are concerned, I will leave it to others to do their own research.

To be clear I certainly was not given any information relating to a possible complaint by a parent that was not passed on to the Head Teacher of Baston House School when I was an employee of the Options Group between 2013 and. I am unequivocally of the view that all mistreatment of children and young people, be they neurodivergent or neurotypical, is WHOLLY unacceptable. I am clear that ANY allegations MUST be fully investigated, and due process must be followed objectively, fully, and compassionately with full regard to the needs of the child and the allegations being made. This must mean the school concerned MUST investigate fully along with, depending on the allegations, other organisations such as the Police Service, the relevant local Authority, and Ofsted. Where necessary, it may be appropriate for a parent or young person to seek legal advice and representation.

I am very concerned by the view that, as a substitute for a correct investigation etc, such matters are simply aired in public. A cynical person may say that this is motivated by a desire to generate chaos and click bait, rather than a genuine willingness to address any misconduct and hold people to account and behave lawfully. Any sensible person would no doubt conclude that the correct procedure must be followed, and this is certainly my view. Anyone pursuing a genuine complaint in good faith can rest assured they would have my full support as far as their decision is concerned. But it is correct that I have instructed to threaten legal proceedings. That is because, like any other person, I find it wholly unacceptable to have grotesque and highly defamatory statements published about me which are not true.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that, on any objective basis, I have been subjected to a torrent of commentary which, to put it at its most generous, is misinformed albeit malicious could be an alternative description. Having said that, I have received many, many offers of support and assistance in relation to the above, and I thanks these people for their generosity and objectivity. Putting that aside, without a doubt, the one thing that I do want to stress is that any genuine abuse of a child must be addressed in full, without impediment and without exception. I hope that all parents will be assured by this and have the confidence to proceed to follow the correct procedures, with the appropriate support if needed. Anyone who would want me to deviate from this approach will be disappointed as I am motivated only by doing what is right for the child or young person and this should be obvious to any reasonable person. In any event, I don’t intend to make any more statements about the above rather I will focus on my work with the charity for the benefit of the autistic and wider neuro diverse community.

Anna Kennedy
7th August 2023

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