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I think this is highly unreasonable re disabled pupils

(112 Posts)
loopyluna Sun 16-Jun-13 11:51:54

I'm posting on here as, where I live, noone seems to find this as anything to get worked up about and I wanted to know if UK mummies felt the same...

My two eldest DC go to a private senior school. (Private schools here are much more affordable than the UK and are a lifestyle choice accessible to most.) I am very happy with the school, the teachers, pastoral care etc. It's got a good reputation and long waiting lists.

My niggle is that the school is comprised of several old buildings on a hill. The amount of stairs, inside and out, is phenomenal. All the classrooms, labs, music rooms and chapel can only be accessed by stairs. Only the dining room, library and offices are on the ground floor. I asked, when we first visited the school, what would a pupil do if they had an accident and needed crutches, and was told that, they would be allowed to leave to class 5 minutes early to avoid being jostled!

However, whenever I've mentioned to DH or other parents, that I am concerned that there is no accessibility for disabled pupils, I receive shrugs and "well they just have to go elsewhere!" The nearest comp has a v v bad reputation and I am actually upset that a physically disabled child would not have the choice of a better school, more caring enviroment etc.

AIBU or am I right to think that this would not be allowed in the UK?

livinginwonderland Sun 16-Jun-13 12:20:16

Amber how is it a tough shit attitude? What do you propose the schools do if they're built on hills and in old listed buildings that can't be altered?

littlewhitebag Sun 16-Jun-13 12:21:34

They are not 'tough shit' attitudes, merely reality. Of course it would be best if all schools had disabled access throughout but it is just not possible. Most schools are strapped for cash for the very basics as it is.

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:23:15

'littlewhitebag'

Excellent name BTW, first time I've thought of Coke or H today.

Blu Sun 16-Jun-13 12:25:22

I think the OP's awareness of the limitations of the school is admirable, actually, and would that more people would consider this sort of thing on behalf of a community as a ehole rather than 'if it doesn't affect you personally YABU'.

Loopy, it took years and years of fierce lobbying for the DDA to be passed in this country, and even then it has wide open loopholes. My guess is there will be no mileage in talking to other parents or even the school, but have a look and see whether any disabled lobby groups are campainging the government for equity of access, and throw your weigt behind them.

If your local council, or the equivalent, has any sort of Equal opps monitoring group, you could write to them and ask how they ensure equal opportunity for disabled children in the school provision.

Actually, with good will, a flexible attitude, imagination and an experienced architect or other professional, 'reasonable adjustment' can often be made with very little expense.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sun 16-Jun-13 12:25:42

Your question to the school only asked about a temporary situation though and I think that response was a reasonable one in the short term. Do you know how they would react if a wheelchair user wanted to join the school or if a current pupil needed longer term adjustments?

Floggingmolly Sun 16-Jun-13 12:28:27

My dd's high school is a listed building, built in 1869. It's got lots of stairs, unsurprisingly. I doubt they could be forced to rebuild to accommodate some hypothetical disabled students. And yours is built on a hill!
What do you suggest they actually do?

Dawndonna Sun 16-Jun-13 12:28:44

Ds went to an independent school in the uk. Beautiful buildings, grade II listed, along with the gardens. Two pupils, one in his year and one in another year were wheelchair users. The school adapted the timetable to ensure all their lessons were on the ground floor. Peasy!

redexpat Sun 16-Jun-13 12:29:39

Depends if that country has ratified the UNs disability rights charter.

BridgetBidet Sun 16-Jun-13 12:30:41

Timetabling.

It can all be solved by timetabling. This was done at my private secondary school. Parts of the school might be inaccessible but if the lschool knows that a disabled child will be in particular lessons they can schedule them in accessible places.

If you're not actually certain that this is even a problem for the school I really can't see what you're worrying for. You've created a hypothetical problem which may or may not exist, why are you giving this headspace?

And yes YABU for not caring about kids who can't go there.

moisturiser Sun 16-Jun-13 12:32:12

I'm afraid pretty much the entire world is undisabled friendly (or so it often feels!) Most buildings, most roads, lots of pavements are completely unsuitable for wheelchairs.

It would be noble to get the school to think about becoming more disabled friendly if they get a disbled student enquire about the school or if they are going to do any more building work. But I'm not sure they'll do anything otherwise. But it's lovely of you to care, and of course more people should.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Sun 16-Jun-13 12:32:59

I have a slight disability which is only going to get worse in time, so I think I'll contact them about future parent-teacher meetings and ask for an appointment downstairs. I could use that as a pretext to bring up the subject

Really?

You don't actually know any children that this has affected, but you want to make an issue of the fact that it is an old school that is built on a hill???

You also want your meetings downstairs 'to make a point'.

<sigh>

Do you not think the school has other more pressing things to deal with. IF a child has an accident or wants to enrol in the school - then it can be sorted out surely?

AmberLeaf Sun 16-Jun-13 12:34:32

Eyesunderarock Waves back...cluelessly! grin

What Eyesunderarock said is very true OP. A lot of the time people only care when it affects them directly.

Those that asked, yes tough shit attitudes, several posts have that ring to them.

Dawndonna Sun 16-Jun-13 12:35:07

If I, and many, many others hadn't challenged people regarding hypothetical situations, there would not be a disability discrimination act, today.
hmm

Jan49 Sun 16-Jun-13 12:35:39

I suppose it's because when the buildings were built, architects didn't allow for people in wheelchairs. Having lots of stairs in a busy school is probably quite dangerous actually, because of the risk of falling when there's a crowd of children and some pushing.

I think saying "it's a listed building, so what can we do?" is sometimes a convenient excuse for not making alterations which would be expensive but make the building wheelchair accessible. I've sometimes heard that excuse used in cafes for not having accessible toilets or even for not having toilets at all. I thought it was illegal for cafes not to have toilets (of any kind) but I've come across several where they used the listed buildings excuse. I bet if it was financially worth it they'd managed to do it.

I think you're right to be concerned and I suspect the parents you've spoken to don't have physically disabled children. The building you've described could surely have a lift added. But IMO in the UK many private schools don't want children with any disability of any kind so they're unlikely to want to make alterations which make it posslble for such children to attend.

JuliaScurr Sun 16-Jun-13 12:37:04

YY amberleaf

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:38:50

'But IMO in the UK many private schools don't want children with any disability of any kind so they're unlikely to want to make alterations which make it posslble for such children to attend.'

^ ^
This.

I get riled about the lack of provision for women fleeing DV with children too, despite it having nothing to do with me or mine. I should stop bothering really. hmm

JuliaScurr Sun 16-Jun-13 12:40:08

I hope a lot of posters on here are trolls...

WestieMamma Sun 16-Jun-13 12:40:13

YABU and wrong to think this wouldn't be allowed in the UK.

The law requires 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people. Retrospectively fitting extensive disabled access to an old building such as you describe on the off chance that someone with a disability may one day want to go there, would not be considered reasonable.

AmberLeaf Sun 16-Jun-13 12:42:08

I also don't understand why people keep talking about hypothetical children with disabilities?

There are such children in existence you know!

If schools, even those with listed status, make a point in their prospectus and on their website that children with disabilities can and will be catered for, then parents when looking would see that that school could cater for their childs needs.

If a school didn't do that, I would assume that they didn't want the bother and would cross them off my list. IME schools that do cater for children with disabilites make a point of publicising that fact.

So, I don't get the attitude of 'deal with it if it arises'

Dawndonna Sun 16-Jun-13 12:42:45

Trust me Julia, they're not.
hmm

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:44:35

Especially if you could turn hem down at interview. Private educational establishments do not have to accept anyone they don't want to, on whatever grounds. As I said, if they don't want a particular disabllity, ethnicity or sexuality present in their school, they can finesse a response that is acceptable in the eyes of their members and remain unchallenged in law.

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:45:47

Trolls? confused

I recognise most of the names here.

Sirzy Sun 16-Jun-13 12:45:47

My secondary school was on a hill, it was on 3 floors and the school could not be adapted to include a lift because of the layout. When I was on crutches for 12 weeks then I either had to go outside and round (you could get to each floor from outside because of the hill) or leave early to avoid the rush.

Not ideal but sometimes there is no alternative.

Being accessableis more than lifts, although that is obviously a start.

There needs to be space for mobility, including in bathrooms and work area's, colleges all now have a few computers, eating/working tables that can be used by a wheelchair user etc .

"AIBU or am I right to think that this would not be allowed in the UK?"

As you have found out, it is allowed, within reason, such as listed buildings. The right to an education, still stands and if the child becomes immobile, they transfer, even if it is temporary.

What annoys me is when new stuff is built and no one had considered those with disabilities.

My area had to have a whole sequence of traffic crossings changed, because someone had forgot to put "bleeps" in. I do wonder how much that cost the LA.

It is difficult to realistically discuss whatshould happen in another country, tbh.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sun 16-Jun-13 12:46:48

Amberleaf I hear your argument and agree with you but where does the funding come from? Most schools are reluctant to spend money on adaptations that may not be needed in the near future and by the time they are needed will be out dated. In the case of my children's old school a stair lift was put in as soon as it was needed but not before.

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