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?

CloudsAndTrees Thu 17-Jan-13 22:37:29

I do understand what you are saying edam. My friend had the 'fire risk' excuse trotted out to him by his employers, and he works for the local council who you'd think would know better. Apparently he would have to wait in a burning building for the fire brigade to come to him in the event of a fire, because installing one of those emergency non electric stair things (evac chair or something) and training other staff how to use it was too much effort hmm

TheFallenNinja Thu 17-Jan-13 22:41:04

Yes, it discriminates between those who can do the job they are advertising and those who can not.

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

This kind of issue is also going to become more and more apparent as more people with disabilities are deemed 'fit' for work by a government desperate to make people with disabilities seem like scroungers.

I've been suffering with a balance problem this last couple of weeks and it has meant changing the way I do my job. I've had to sit or stand and lean whereas I normally move around the classroom constantly. Within half a lesson the kids had adjusted to the fact that they need to come up to the desk rather than me coming to them and we are all in the new routine. I may even keep it like this after my op. If there is one thing children are it is adaptable.

StuntGirl Fri 18-Jan-13 01:46:21

Khall No, they can't.

HollyBerryBush Fri 18-Jan-13 02:20:30

Drama productions perhaps - hoiking 'stuff' round the set? Or Music? Even PE, if there is equipment will involve a lot of lugging about.

Stamina rather than physical fitness would have been a more apt expression for a teaching job!

Something I never knew about teaching applicatinas and the selection process - if it is put on an application form the teacher has a disability - they have to have an interview (according to our HR) even if they are entirely unsuitable upon reading their application. Just another of those quirky little things the unions negotiated.

KhallDrogo Fri 18-Jan-13 03:43:57

stuntgirl how so? Surely in supervising kids, you need to have an able bodied member of staff? What if no one else on the staff was?

Or is it just that they are not lower to state it on the job description?

StraightTalkinSheila Fri 18-Jan-13 04:02:09

YANBU. This thread is full of "what ifs?" from people who are, for the most part, a) not teachers, and therefore cannot make accurate judgements about what teachers are required to do and b) not disabled and therefore cannot make accurate judgements about what disabled people an and cannot do.
In fact, it does make me chuckle that if this was. Thread about SN students, the general consensus would be "Oh, how dreadful! Discrimination alert! Everyone is equal..yadda yadda yadda", yet when it's about people who are supposed to be in charge of said students, the story seems to be completely different.

KhallDrogo Fri 18-Jan-13 06:54:15

Well my 'what ifs' are because I am trying to understand.....

Disabilities are limiting aren't they, thars why they are disabilities. I would have thought in a school scenario there would ne a requirement for at least some staff to be capable of man handling the children. For occassions such as broken legs

StraightTalkinSheila Fri 18-Jan-13 06:59:49

"At least some staff need to be capable of man handling the children."
Two things wrong with this-
- no member of staff is EVER required to "man handle" children. Jeepers.
- the supposition that all staff could be disabled. What difference does one wheelchair user make?
Also, "disabilities are limiting". Yes, they are, but what you fail to realise is that there are ways of adapting to deal with these "limitations". Blimey.

KhallDrogo Fri 18-Jan-13 07:28:42

I know its an unlikely scenario that all the staff are disabled hmm I'm talking hyperthetically really. There is a requirement to be able to lift children sometimes....surely someone needs to be able to carry a child with a broken leg

I have worked in a role where you absolutely could bot do the job unless you were able bodied and fit. You could make adaptations to allow access etc, but a person in a wheelchair would nor be able to do the job. There were staff with learning disabilities and mental health problems.

The advert isn't saying no one with disabilities, but is requiring physical fitness

I don't have a 'view' really, I'm just exploring my thoughts, so stop trying to paint me as a baddie

StraightTalkinSheila Fri 18-Jan-13 07:38:18

You asked a question.
I think you are being unreasonable in your original post and have made various points to show this.
I would never carry a child with a broken leg. I would wait for the ambulance to do so.
Your hypothetical situations do not warrant the idea you are trying to get across that a wheelchair user is not able to be an effective teacher.

crashdoll Fri 18-Jan-13 07:45:41

This thread is interesting to me because I am a strong advocate of the social model of disability and some of the replies in this thread just show that it is society that puts up the barriers. For those who don't know, the medical model of disability looks at the person as being the 'problem' but the bottom line is, society puts up barriers and this thread is a perfect example.

KhallDrogo Fri 18-Jan-13 07:48:27

That is not 'a point I am trying to get across' at all'

It's not a view I hold. A wheelchair makes no difference to how affective a teacher is. I don't 'fail to understand' that adaptations can be made either

I am just exploring, given my previous roles, whether there would be a scenario where an able bodied teacher would be required. It seems not

As an aside, are you a teacher? If my dc broke a leg in the playground, I would expect them to be carried inside out of the rain

Brugmansia Fri 18-Jan-13 07:52:59

The OP summed it up in her later posts really. It may be desirable for a teacher to be able to do various things but it's not essential.

This is the same in most jobs. There will be the key duties that define that role and having the necessary qualifications and experience will be essential. Then there are the peripheral aspects of the job. In this case it appears that the school have incorporated physical requirements that are desirable to be able to carry out the ancillary aspects of the job into the essential criteria, thereby potentially discriminating against potential candidates with various disabilities.

Those ancillary duties still need to be done. The question is then what reasonable adjustments can be made to accommodate the disabled employees. The points raised above, such of age of building and the impact on other staff are factors to consider. It may be that an employer could legitimately reach the conclusion, after considering the options, that the adjustments needed to accommodate a particular potential employee are too onerous. The problem on this case is that the school is effectively saying they just want candidates who are able bodied at the outset and are unwilling to consider disabled candidates who they could accommodate. On this basis it is discriminatory (in my view).

StraightTalkinSheila Fri 18-Jan-13 07:53:21

I am a teacher and i have a "disability".
If your dc broke their leg and it was raining, I still wouldn't move them until the ambulance came, I'd Elat the help of another member of staff and we would keep the child dry (cover with coats, umbrellas) whilst we waited for the ambulance. This would be the practice in all schools.

StraightTalkinSheila Fri 18-Jan-13 07:53:40

*enlist help

crashdoll Fri 18-Jan-13 07:54:22

I do see what you're saying KhallDrogo but the 'what if' scenario is highly unlikely as people who are wheelchair users and/or have severe physical disabilities are in the minority. There would be someone around the school to assist your child. I have a physical disability and I used to work in a nursery. Unfortunately, a child had a nasty accident (still think about it even 3 years later sad) and instinct led me to bend down to grab her. It caused me great pain and difficulty but I did it. Obviously, there are those people who physically cannot perform those actions but as I said, they really are in the minority.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 18-Jan-13 07:58:57

That's a good way of putting it Brugmansia. I think you are probably right.

Crashdoll, I agree that it's society that puts up the barriers.

justmatureenough2bdad Fri 18-Jan-13 08:02:26

i think this is an occasion where the school believes a conflict of rights exists, insofar as they believe employing someone physically or mentally incapable of doing the specified job may have a detrimental effect on a a number of other people, in this case, children. In these cases, they CAN qualify their essential criteria on the basis of the fact that they are protecting the childrens rights....this is the schools prerogative and what they would argue where this to be taken to a review panel.

KhallDrogo Fri 18-Jan-13 08:16:45

Ok, I had no idea schools call ambulances for broken bones. Seems like a waste of ambulances, but totally irrelevant to thread smile

CloudsAndTrees Fri 18-Jan-13 08:19:53

Justmature, I see what you are saying, but having just had my mind opened by Brugmansia's post, the bit where you say 'they believe employing someone physically or mentally incapable of doing the specified job may have a detrimental effect on a number of other people'.

Their (possibly incorrect) beliefs about what might or might not be an issue is what makes it discriminatory if they won't even consider a person with a disability. If they do consider the individual and their own limitations and need and with fair reason decide they still cannot accommodate them, or they decide that employing that person will be detrimental to others, then it's not discriminating.

That's how I'm seeing it anyway. There is a strong case for positive discrimination, but it's about where the line is drawn. It's right to positively discriminate so that a disabled person can have the same outcome as a non disabled person, the question is how far can you take the positive discrimination.

justmatureenough2bdad Fri 18-Jan-13 08:45:52

without seeing the advert in full, it doesn't appear to say that they will not consider people with a disability, just that applicants would be expected to be able to fulfill the duties mentioned.

legislation does oblige an employer to interview anyone defined as disabled under DDA if they apply. in jobs where there is a physical element (which i agree is unclear in this case, no two teaching jobs necessarily being the same) then there may be a "fitness to participate" type assessment. After all, if the job does actually require physical work, and someone is given the position on the understanding that they are capable of carrying out such duties and then can't....this is misrepresentation....

The equalities act and dda are extremely important pieces of legislation, but they do also allow for practicality insofar as it allows for qualification of some rights and addresses inevitable conflicts. To a certain degree, schools benefit from this as it is usually held that a child's rights to safety from harm is the highest priority, so if it can be argued that this is potentially jeapardised by the exercising of another's rights...the child's right "wins"

flow4 Fri 18-Jan-13 15:56:40

You are forming judgements about the school's attitude and behaviour towards disabled people based on the advert, rather than the job description. We all know Ads only give a 'snapshot' of a situation, and 'terms and conditions' also apply. The same will almost certainly be the case here... And to be fair, no-one knows what the school 'believes' about employing disabled people... It's all speculation! smile

As I said above, if you look at the full job details, I bet you will also find a statement along the lines of:
"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".

The school will (and must by law) interview any disabled applicant, and discuss any barriers/problems a disabled person might face doing the job, and make 'reasonable adjustments' accordingly.

This isn't 'positive discrimination'; it's addressing the problems and issues that a disabled person would face doing the job because society discriminates against them.

StuntGirl Fri 18-Jan-13 18:47:09

Khall - the reason they couldn't specify able bodied regardless of how many disabled staff they have is because it is illegal to do so. Any school who does so would be breaking the law and could be taken to court (where they would invariably lose).

All prospective employees must be treated equitably and fairly. The current make up of a schools staff bears absolutely no relevance on a prospective employees capabilities of doing the job. So it cannot legally be taken into consideration.

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