Autistic boy put in 'cage' at Canberra school

Special needs child was allegedly kept in a cage-like structure. Photo: Getty file photo

An investigation has been launched after a special needs child was allegedly put in a cage-like structure made of pool fencing at a Canberra public school.

The 10-year-old boy with autism was allegedly put inside a two by two metre enclosure made of pool fencing as a means of controlling his behavior, over a 17-day period at a public primary school.

Education Minister Joy Burch said the child was placed in a "withdrawal space" inside the classroom, between March 10 and March 27.

“The space was basically a fenced in structure inside a classroom. It was entirely inappropriate and unacceptable,” she said.

“This is an example of extremely poor decision making,” she added. “This is not in the best interest of the child.”

Ms Burch said the structure which would not be deemed acceptable at any school, had been withdrawn.

Ms Burch was alerted of the incident last Thursday and the school principal was stood down.

She said she had initiated a thorough investigation as to the why and where the structure was allowed to be put in place.

Ms Burch said she made assurances through the school executive and through support teams that the child and the family involved would be given the utmost support.

The 10-year-old boy is still attending the school and extra staff have been assigned to look after him.

The issue emerged last week after a complaint was made to the Children and Young People's Commissioner, reports the ABC.

Parents with students at the school have been informed of the incident.

Diane Joseph from the ACT Education Directorate said it was an isolated example of very poor decision making.

"The decision to erect such a structure raises so many questions,” he told the ABC.

"This is not how our students should be treated."

The withdrawal space was built for a particular student, but the Directorate conceded it did not know if it had been used for other students.

The investigation will be conducted by someone independent of the ACT Education and Training Directorate.

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