RNIB to close children’s home at the centre of safeguarding investigations  

04 Sep 2018 News

RNIB has announced that it will close a children’s home which triggered investigations by Ofsted and the Charity Commission over concerns about safeguarding. 

RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning is a residential home run by RNIB Charity, a subsidiary of RNIB. It will close on 7 November with the loss of 180 jobs. 

Ofsted, the regulator for schools and children’s’ care services, launched an investigation earlier this year over concerns about how the centre was being run. The Commission opened a statutory inquiry after RNIB filed a serious incident report, to consider whether there had been sufficient trustee oversight of safeguarding.

In a statement posted on the charity’s website Eleanor Southwood, chair of the charity, said it was a “difficult decision” but that RNIB had concluded that it is “not the right organisation to be running this highly specialised service”.  

“We have worked really hard to turn the service around but unfortunately, we have not been able to satisfy [Ofsted] that we have made adequate progress,” she said. 

RNIB has set up a transition team to support children to move to new homes and schools. 

Southwood said: “The children and young people at the centre are our number one priority; they deserve the very best care and support. We’ve worked hard to put things right but we accept that we’re not the right organisation to be running this highly specialised service for children and young people with complex health needs.

“Our colleagues have worked incredibly hard to make improvements at the centre, we’re grateful for everything they’ve done and thank them for their dedication and commitment. 

“I’m saddened to share this news with you yet I am confident this is the right decision, for the children, for RNIB and for the wider community we are here to support."

The centre was first established in 1957 as the RNIB Rushton Hall School. It bought its current location in 2007 and the purpose built facilities were opened in 2012 after a £30m development programme. It is the only establishment of its kind run by RNIB. 

Earlier this Ofsted informed RNIB that it planned to cancel its registration after a series of increasingly poor monitoring reports. 

The Commission announced it had opened a statutory inquiry in April. RNIB’s chief executive, Sally Harvey, resigned as a result of the inquiry, and Eliot Lyne was appointed interim chief executive. 

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