Mum slams Sydney school for locking autistic child in 'cage'

Kamilia Palu

The mother of an autistic child in Sydney’s west has slammed a private school over the mistreatment of her son, claiming he was regularly put in a ‘cage’ when he became uncontrollable.

Lynda Jordan said she arrived at ASPECT Macarthur School one day to find staff forcefully escorting her son Toby, now 13, into a “lockable structure” the school referred to as the 'top playground'.

"They had him slightly elevated from the ground and both had hold of his arms and his wrists, had them turned back,” Ms Jordan told ABC’s 7:30.

"As they escorted him through a gate outside of the school, opened the gate to the lockable structure, pushed him in there, shut the lockable structure, turned around, and walked away.”

Lynda Jordan said her 'hysterical' son was locked inside the enclosure and left unsupervised. Photo: ABC

She said her son was hysterically screaming and fighting and even tried to climb over the fence to get out of the enclosure.

The ‘top playground’ consists of a wooden cubby house with a high fence built around it. Toby calls the playground a "cage".


According to Ms Jordan, the cubby house is unused and boarded up and said her son has been left traumatised over the treatment.

She claimed the school never contacted her for her approval, and would have strongly rejected the idea had they phoned her.

The exterior of the school in Cobbitty. Photo: ABC

The school is now under investigation from the NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards, with officials visiting the campus and interviewing Ms Jordan on Tuesday.

ASPECT has also launched an internal investigation, with the school’s national director Dr Trevor Clark claiming Ms Jordan was aware of Toby’s visits to the ‘top playground’ whenever he had a meltdown.

He disputed further claims that children were left unattended in the fenced structure.

"No teacher leaves a child with autism unsupervised no matter what situation within a school or within a community and the reason for that is we have got a duty of care to our children - it was exercised at the time, it is very unfortunate that there was a different view about where staff were," Dr Clark told 7.30.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said Toby’s story was unfortunately one of many complaints received from families in NSW.

Dr Trevor Clark, national director of ASPECT, said Toby's 'meltdowns' left himself and his peers in danger. Photo: ABC

He recently met with 30 families suffering from similar circumstances and said it’s about time something more was done.

"It was the same story being repeated time, after time, after time, after time, by parents and teachers," he told 7.30.

"When it's one case, you can turn a blind eye to it as an MP, but when you get case after case after case, well that's when I think we need to move to have an inquiry."