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Ainu to think this is discrimination or am I being politically correct gone mad?!

(99 Posts)
Skinnywhippet Thu 17-Jan-13 17:30:33

This is listed as ESSENTIAL (not just desirable) attribute for a job advert for a teacher.

Must be physically fit to undertake
the duties of the role – lifting,
bending, stooping and carrying.

Surely that is discrimination. I have a disabled friend who is a teacher and it is no problem. Yes, teachers do lifting etc, but you can avoid these if necessary. What do you think?

TheNebulousBoojum Thu 17-Jan-13 19:05:37

We've had disabled students that couldn't access areas of the school, so we swapped classrooms around in advance so they had access to all the areas they needed to throughout their years in school.
On first sight, the ad is discriminatory, worth challenging anyway.
I think doing the job would be very tough with a significant physical disability, but if the will was there on both sides it would be possible. As has been said, if teachers are going to be expected to teach til 67 or 70, the schools had better get used to adapting themselves for elderly staff.

MrsDeVere Thu 17-Jan-13 19:07:16

Sorry Clouds, I am not getting at you...just an interesting conversation.

If the adaptations are available then surely an adult could be accommodated?

Assisting a child in a toilet is possible if the toilet is accessible.
Comforting a child is possible from a chair.
Teaching children to use play equipment does not require physical demonstration and you can help a child get down/up from a chair.

McNewPants2013 Thu 17-Jan-13 19:19:10

In teaching i think it is easy to make adjustment because of a disability.

In my job there is no way to make adjustment because of a phyical disability. I am an Nhs cleaner so there is nothing i can think of that could anyone can make adjustment for.

StuntGirl Thu 17-Jan-13 19:20:00

Disability is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. So yes, the advert is discriminatory and could very easily be challenged.

Skinnywhippet Thu 17-Jan-13 19:34:06

No problems with previous staff trying to sue. Can you guess that I know the school rather well!? I wouldn't have minded if they put the criteria in the DESIRABLE column but ESSENTIAL is a bit much iyswim.

Skinnywhippet Thu 17-Jan-13 19:35:26

I also find it insulting that my employer thinks I do lots of lifting, carrying and stooping! It is not essential.

Skinnywhippet Thu 17-Jan-13 19:36:51

Also, this person spec is standard it seems - it has been used identically for the two teaching jobs they are advertising for.

mum11970 Thu 17-Jan-13 19:37:36

Our local primary school has just celebrated it's centenary and would be unable to accommodate either a teacher or pupil in a wheelchair permanently. The school is built on a slope and covers 3 levels, each level is accessed by stairs internally and only has external ramps to ground and top floor, there are only steps to main entrance on middle floor. Due to the age and layout of the school it would be impossible to make it wheelchair friendly internally as it's all narrow corridors and stairs.

Brugmansia Thu 17-Jan-13 19:58:51

It would probably come down top what explanation they out forward for why these physical requirements address essential for the job. It's not what I would think of as being a defining part of being a teacher.

Ambrosiacreamedrice Thu 17-Jan-13 20:00:28

If two floors are accessible, then the teacher is given one of the classrooms on those floors surely? A pupil in a wheelchair is similarly accommodated. If a corridor is too narrow for a wheelchair I'd be concerned about the safety of the children using it. A ramp could also be provided to the main entrance if necessary. Our (listed) building has been made accessible.

allgoingtoshitnow Thu 17-Jan-13 20:06:28

Do you think the school are deliberately discriminating OP? Or are they just advertising based on what the role entails after considering their situation etc?

Maybe whomever is interested in the role can offer to take less pay so they can get an assistant to help with the bits of the job requirement that aren't met?

Equalities legislation is designed to stamp out discrimination. Not to put people into roles they cant physically do.

mum11970 Thu 17-Jan-13 20:16:33

All classrooms are on the ground floor but toilets and staff room on second floor and main hall/canteen on top so it wouldn't be feasible. Also it's a steep climb up the playground. Any children on crutches have to have a helper to aid them outside between floors. Think the school only get away with being so wheelchair unfriendly due to it's age and would probably need to be demolished and rebuilt to be anywhere near wheelchair accessible to all areas.

Skinnywhippet Thu 17-Jan-13 20:44:59

I think it is ignorance. I believe the person who wrote the job spec just didn't think very carefully. The rest of the job spec is a bit contradictory. Get annoyed when people who are paid more than me, eg management can't seem to do these things properly!

CloudsAndTrees Thu 17-Jan-13 21:30:28

MrsDeVere, I think it's interesting too, and there's always ideas to be shared about how certain problems could be overcome.

Without wanting to sound like I'm creating barriers where there should be none,

Assisting a child in a toilet is possible if the toilet is accessible. In my schools building this would mean children in Y1 and reception being unable to use their little child sized toilets in their own classroom. They would have to go to the other end of the school, either alone, or with a member of staff who would be more use to the class as a whole in the classroom, just on the off chance that they might need help. If they had had an accident, their things to change into wouldn't be nearby. So on the whole, far from ideal, and possibly detrimental to the class if this were to be enforced with our building the way it is now.

Comforting a child is possible from a chair. yes, in most cases it absolutely is. Although not so much when the upset child is lying on the floor because they have hurt themselves and need to be picked up, or they have gone into the playhouse or shed or the little shelter in the wooded area, or at the top of the climbing frame, and need someone to go and be where they have chosen to be while they are comforted. Not a massive problem (except with the injured child lying on the floor) but IMO, a reasonable consideration for the school to make.

Teaching children to use play equipment does not require physical demonstration and you can help a child get down/up from a chair. I do some exercises with the children in my class that do very much require physical demonstration, the quickest example I can think of is with a child who doesn't have recognised SEN as he's still only reception, but is very uncoordinated and 'clumsy' for a lack of a better word. He has been doing exercises like rolling a ball from one foot to the other, moving his ankles round in circles and that kind of thing. He very much does need a visual demonstration. As I said earlier, we have a massive wooden climbing frame, and I have only been able to encourage some children to use it fully and be involved in 'risk taking' (seemingly v fashionable in the EYFS at the moment) by being able to stand underneath then while they try the monkey bars, or swing themselves across to the firemans pole.

None of this is essential for teaching the academic stuff, but tbh, I think it is important that a KS1 teacher be able to support all areas of learning.

Ambrosiacreamedrice Thu 17-Jan-13 21:49:39

Clouds, do you as a teacher assist in toileting? That is very much left to TAs in any of the primary schools I've been in. Equally, in the EYFS all of the other tasks you mention could be undertaken by an additional adult who would be in the setting anyway.

CloudsAndTrees Thu 17-Jan-13 21:56:22

I'm not a teacher, but I have known teachers in my school to assist with toileting on occasion. If I'm engaged with a group of children doing an activity and the teacher isn't engaged with anything in particular, she wouldn't disturb me or the children I'm working with to do a toileting job as if it was beneath her or something. We are part of a team.

In the EYFS, yes, in theory another staff member could do the things I talked about, but what if one of the staff members can't for some reason? They are disabled themselves, or they are pregnant, or they happen to just have a bad back that week? Shouldn't all staff members be able to do all of the same aspects of the job if they have the same job title and job description? What if one of the staff members is already disabled and needs help to do certain things? Would it be discrimination to not want to employ another member of staff who had a disability, or in theory, could you end up with an entire team of staff made up of people with disabilities so as not to discriminate?

Ambrosiacreamedrice Thu 17-Jan-13 22:13:32

I think the OP has stated that there are not already people with disabilities in the team.

I just think, where do you draw the line? Teaching is a job that is adaptable for people with disabilities and will have to become more adaptable as the retirement age increases. When I signed up I could leave at 60. Now it is 68. I already suffer with arthritis in one knee at 32. I could well end up needing adaptations myself. Do I suddenly become unable to teach because I can't walk very well?

CloudsAndTrees Thu 17-Jan-13 22:21:43

I know there aren't already people who have disabilities in the team OP is talking about, I'm just discussing the issue in general.

Like you say, where do you draw the line? Where does it become unreasonable rather than reasonable adaptations that need to be made, and where does it become discrimination in relation to where it is detrimental to colleagues or (in this particular situation) schoolchildren?

It's just an area that interests me and I think these things need to be discussed to enable as many barriers as possible to be broken down for people who have disabilities.

Ambrosiacreamedrice Thu 17-Jan-13 22:24:43

But to get into the hypothetical situation you were talking about regarding an already disabled team member, the school would have to not discriminate in the first place?

The question you raise about pregnancy is interesting. Should pregnant women be made to leave because they aren't willing to lift a child on a climbing frame?

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 17-Jan-13 22:27:18

It's discriminatory.

I work in a school, including with reception age children, and heavy lifting, stooping, picking up, etc are not necessary, even though they are frequently done.

edam Thu 17-Jan-13 22:27:50

Clouds, every time discrimination is outlawed against a previously unprotected group, the same hoary old arguments are wheeled out. E.g. 'Ooh, we couldn't allow women into our golf club, there aren't any loos'. 'Ooh, we couldn't allow disabled people in here, what about the fire risk'. It's just the kneejerk response of people who either want to discriminate or think it's all too difficult.

Tough luck. The law says you can't discriminate on grounds of gender/race/disability/sexual orientation/age. That means you can't do it. If you have a teacher who can't manage the stairs, you reallocate classrooms so they have one without stairs etc. etc. etc.

(Am not having a go at you, I know you are trying to think about it, but please don't fall for any of these tired old excuses for discrimination.)

My workplace pisses me off as we don't have a lift 'as it's a Victorian building'. I do wish my colleague who works on the top floor and really struggles with the stairs would challenge them. I'm sure she could argue that she should have an office on the ground floor - she's just too nice to do it.

flow4 Thu 17-Jan-13 22:27:53

A job advert never gives the 'whole picture'; applicants need to look at all the details in the recruitment pack. Most local authority jobs, including teaching posts, will specify 'essential criteria', but will also include a statement somewhere in the application pack along the lines of the following:
"We recognise and welcome our responsibility to remove any barriers in our recruitment and selection process for disabled applicants. We have tried to do this but if you have a disability and identify any barriers in the job description, employee specification or the recruitment process, please tell us. We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to the job wherever possible".

LadyBeagleEyes Thu 17-Jan-13 22:30:56

Yup, blatant discrimination.
YANBU op.
Is it legal to word a teacher's job application like that?

CloudsAndTrees Thu 17-Jan-13 22:32:28

Yes, a school would have to not discriminate in the first place. So if the have shown that they don't discriminate on disability grounds, could they then be accused of discrimination if they knew they would need a team member to do more than their usual share of lifting, carrying, bending etc and therefore advertised a post on that basis? I'm just thinking really, I'm not sure where my own opinion lies yet!

Pregnancy, I think, comes under different legislation, but again, I guess it all comes down to what is considered 'reasonable'. I'd consider it reasonable to not want to lift two stone or more of child down from monkey bars above your head, but then it's not reasonable to refuse to do playground duty because you might encounter a child that needs helping up off the floor.

KhallDrogo Thu 17-Jan-13 22:35:56

what if it was a job in a team of 4 and the other 3 had physical disabilities, which meant they couldn't lift children down from climbing frames etc. Can the employed then advertise for a physically able-bodied member of staff?

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