to expect the school to be wheelchair accessable everywhere?

(65 Posts)
mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:18:56

And that in 2013 there should not be large amounts of rooms unaccessable to the wheelchair bound and that my daughter shouldn't have to miss food tech as there is only a food tech room upstairs and stairs? Or have it suggested that she should stay home instead? NOT happy with school.

Smartiepants79 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:23:15

An alternative should be found, sending her home isn't an answer!
Is it an old building?
I thought all public buildings had to be wheelchair accessible by law.
Surely this is something that was considered before she started at the school.

Sirzy Wed 27-Feb-13 21:25:02

I thought all public buildings had to be wheelchair accessible by law.

New buildings have to be wheelchair accessible, older buildings have to be able to show that they have done everything which is realistically possible in order to make the building accessible.

LatteLady Wed 27-Feb-13 21:29:33

In an ideal world it would be wonderful but unfortunately you have to deal as a GB with the school building stock that you have. You make every effort to make all of the school accessible... you fight with the lift that appears to have a mind of its own and has done since it was fitted two years ago... you lose staff toilets to create a wet room.

Unless your building is of new stock, then it is a real challenge to ensure access to everyone... you aim for it but sometimes, the building itself conspires against you.

BTW suggesting she stay at home is an illegal exclusion and the school is on a very sticky wicket... get a copy of the school complaints and follow it to the letter.

RainbowsFriend Wed 27-Feb-13 21:32:21

The school I work at gets numbers of children in wheelchairs requesting our school even if out of catchment as it is much better wheelchair-friendly than most other secondaries in our area.

It still has many classrooms that are inaccessible however - but no "specialist" rooms are inaccessible except where there is another on the ground floor - eg 2 art rooms upstairs, one downstairs.

YANBU in that your DD should be able to access all areas of the curriculum, but maybe the building cannot be altered without huge amounts of funding (which is not available)? Are there any other schools she could go to? Did you look into this before choosing her school?

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:32:35

i can understand that some parts of the building is older but to send her home? Her disability has come on so to speak unexpectactly and very rtapid onset so we were not thinking she would need a wheelchair when she started there. But to send her home? I said NO loudly, and an email to the head shortly followed.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:33:48

basically no IT or any tech at all.

RainbowsFriend Wed 27-Feb-13 21:33:58

Please excuse my poor grammar. Knackered, morning evening sick and still wrestling DD into bed...

RainbowsFriend Wed 27-Feb-13 21:35:23

You may just have to change schools then. They can't just alter it for you unfortunately, although it is not ideal. I believe the LEA only has to have 1 accessible school in each area, although they are trying to improve all schools gradually... sad

fairylightsinthesnow Wed 27-Feb-13 21:35:26

of course she should not stay at home but it is unrealistic to think that all schools can adapt buildings appropriately. Some of my school's buildings are grade 1 listed but even normal 60s built comps are restricted in what they can do. Where at all possible, lessons are timetabled into accessible rooms but it is not reasonable to expect a school to meet the expense of repositioning a specialist room.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:38:02

I went to that school iand i know that there are a few 3 steps here, 2 steps there which i think could be sorted which would make much more of the school accessable but they haven't done it. And they use one of the two disabled toilets for storage!

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:39:23

Also they park the school minibuses in the disabled parking spaces near the front door. why?

RainbowsFriend Wed 27-Feb-13 21:41:37

Because they've got slack?

I must admit that our school is crap re the disabled parking spaces - I often arrive to find the staff carpark over-full and overflowed into the disabled spaces - which I dont use - I park round the corner and walk if that's the case - but a lot of teachers dont seem to care about the disabled spaces sad

CloudsAndTrees Wed 27-Feb-13 21:43:23

If this is a rapid onset thing, there is a chance that they are going to try their best to be accommodating to your dd, but they just haven't been able to. I'm being very generous here and giving them the benefit of the doubt!

It sounds like their attitude is a problem if they are suggesting sending her home, and that ime is the biggest barrier.

How long has this been going on for? Have they done anything at all to show willing?

Sirzy Wed 27-Feb-13 21:43:29

they need to sort the toilet and the parking now they are actually needed but its not that simple to just take out steps.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:44:17

its the attitude i hate, like it doesn't matter as long as they have been seen to be disabled friendly but not actually at all

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:48:04

they put a lift thing on the 5 steps to the library so they could if they want to. but the school minibuses in the disabled spaces? both of them? can't they park them somewhere else? why do they need to put stuff in the loo? been going on a few months. sending the OT in the next few weeks to help.

SirBoobAlot Wed 27-Feb-13 21:49:35

The toilet and parking thing need sorting out NOW. That's shocking.

I remember our school being adapted in the summer because a new student with a walking frame was transferring. It wasn't a particularly new school. They adjusted the stair case - made it narrower, and introduced a one-way system - to make it doable.

They should be finding a way for her to attend her subjects. Her missing them just isn't okay, and sending her home is terrible!

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:50:07

i think they hope we will change schools

IAmLouisWalsh Wed 27-Feb-13 21:50:42

Food tech rooms are a bugger to relocate because of requirements about sinks, gas points etc. We would love to move ours but there just isn't the money to do it.

Despite our best efforts, we have only managed limited wheelchair accessibility for the school, because the fabric of the building just won't support it.

blackeyedsusan Wed 27-Feb-13 21:51:30

you can make a complaint about the parking and the disabled toilet, citing them as reasonable adjustments. the children's primary school has wheelchair lifts at two of the 3 changes of level. the other one has an alternate route as it is a bit aawkward. they get few wheelchai users, so when they need to they swap the classrooms around to put the wheelchair users in the accessible ones.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:52:59

i wouldnt mind if i felt they really couldnt do it but i think they can but dont want to. I have made a complaint so will see if anything changes.

quoteunquote Wed 27-Feb-13 21:53:08

Make sure Ofsted know, about the school inability to meet your daughter needs.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:53:56

i just wish they school had made as much effort as yours Iamlouiswalsh.

tethersend Wed 27-Feb-13 21:54:23

No, the school are in breach of The Equality Act by suggesting that your DD should stay at home and not offering her the same curriculum as able-bodied children.

Leaving aside the travesty of the destruction of the Building Schools for the Future scheme, schools are not allowed to discriminate in this way.

1. Reasonable adjustments for disabled people

Schools have a continuing duty to ‘make reasonable adjustments’. This may involve treating disabled pupils ‘more favourably’ than non-disabled pupils. The duty contains three requirements:
• changing your provisions, criteria or practices;
• making changes to overcome barriers created by the physical features of the premises;
• providing auxiliary aids and services – this is a new duty and further details will be provided in the final guidance.

All schools have to make adjustments in relation to:
• the arrangements you make for deciding who you offer admission to;
• the way you provide education;
• the way you give access to a benefit, facility or service.

3. Providing education and access to any benefit, service or facility

A school must not:
• discriminate in the way it provides education for a pupil;
• discriminate in the way it gives a pupil access to any benefit, facility or service;
• refuse to provide education for a pupil for discriminatory reasons;
• refuse to give a pupil access to a benefit, facility or service;
• harass a pupil;
• victimise a pupil.

4. Exclusions

Schools must not discriminate against pupils when making exclusion decisions. Reasons for exclusion must not be the protected characteristic. Any exclusions based on behaviour, should be consistently applied to those with or without a protected characteristic.

The procedures used for deciding what punishment a pupil will receive and for investigating incidents must not discriminate against pupils with a particular protected characteristic.

Essentially, by asking your DD to stay at home, they are excluding her due to her disability.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:55:29

i just looked at their policy on disabled equality. completely ignoring their own words

tethersend Wed 27-Feb-13 21:55:33

Oh, and also:

Schools must have in place either:
• a three year race equality policy and action plan; accessibility plan; disability equality scheme and action plan; gender equality scheme and action plan; equal opportunities policy that covers sexual orientation, age and religion and belief; and a strategy for promoting community cohesion; or
• a three year single equality scheme and action plan that incorporates all the above policies, schemes and plans.

tethersend Wed 27-Feb-13 21:56:21

Death by CnP, sorry.

But they are wrong and discriminating against your DD. I would speak to the LEA.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:57:18

thank you tethersend i will add that to my next email.

BanjoPlayingTiger Wed 27-Feb-13 21:58:56

That is shocking! When I was at school 20 years ago, our school made every effort to accommodate people who needed wheelchairs. To the extent of having people to carry the chairs upstairs to the rooms on the 1st floor.

They adapted the areas where there were steps and put in ramps, they installed wheelchair accessible toilets. This was years ago, the fact that more schools are not already accessible is utterly horrendous!

quoteunquote Wed 27-Feb-13 21:59:18
BriocheDoree Wed 27-Feb-13 22:00:59

You Could also contact ipsea www.ipsea.org.uk/ they Could advise you on the legal position.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:01:07

Thank you for those links, very useful

ProphetOfDoom Wed 27-Feb-13 22:08:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IAmLouisWalsh Wed 27-Feb-13 22:12:49

Before you contact the LA - is it an academy? Cause if so the LA can do bog all.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:15:11

yes it is sad

IAmLouisWalsh Wed 27-Feb-13 22:17:06

The board of governors/directors is your first port of call, then, and possibly the sponsors if it is a chain.

Some academies do work with LAs but they have no real 'power' over them.

IAmLouisWalsh Wed 27-Feb-13 22:18:33

And academies are notorious for 'illegal' exclusions - certainly the ones I have experience of, anyway - sponsored and converter academies.

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:19:43

sad

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:21:14

i think we may have to move her but she really doesn't want to leave her very lovely friends and she is very shy and doesnt make friends easily

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:23:16

its an outstanding ofsted school!

deleted203 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:23:48

I don't know the answer to this one, and I agree that it is not acceptable to say your DD should 'stay home', but certainly our school is not fully accessible. Food tech room is upstairs with no wheelchair access. As are computer rooms. I don't really know what the school could/should do about this. There is nowhere to fit a lift/ramp to make the upper floors accessible - nor any money to do so. School buildings are old, and there is barely enough money for the basics such as text books, TBH.

IAmLouisWalsh Wed 27-Feb-13 22:25:04

So it will be a converter academy. And can pretty much do as it pleases. Cheers, Mr Gove

mum382013 Wed 27-Feb-13 22:31:56

thank you so much. night

MidniteScribbler Wed 27-Feb-13 22:35:45

It's awful for your daughter, but I think you should do your best to work with the school, rather than becoming confrontational (which I know is hard when it comes to your children being treated unfairly). Look in to any government or other funding that the school can access to make adjustments for her, offer suggestions for fundraising that you are willing to coordinate if those funds will be used to make the school more accessible for students. Use the words "for current and future students", not just "my daughter" so you are showing it can benefit all students, not just your daughter. Schools have to fight tooth and nail for funding and have all students to consider, so as awful as it is, the needs of one can sometimes be set aside in the bigger picture. Go to them with solutions, make things easier for them (have the applications for grants or funding available, have good workable suggestions for fundraising and a list of parents willing to support you in the running of it, etc) so they can't say no.

Good luck.

tethersend Wed 27-Feb-13 22:40:59

Sorry Midnite, I disagree- OP should not have to persuade the school that its a good idea not to discriminate against her DD. It's the law, and they need to abide by it.

I say that as a teacher.

MidniteScribbler Wed 27-Feb-13 22:52:35

I do agree that they need to abide by the law, absolutely, but have you ever heard the phrase "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar"?

Making modifications to old buildings is difficult. Where do you expect an already overstretched school to pull the money from to fund the building of (or even find the space for) a whole new food tech room, or to put in a lift? Just demanding it doesn't mean that the principal is suddenly going to be able to go to the big pile of money in the hole being the picture in their wall and pay for it. The money has to come from somewhere. Where? Fundraising? That's a good start, so why is it unreasonable to suggest that the OP be willing to offer suggestions for fundraising options when it is for the benefit of her daughter?

BTW, my school did exactly that when we got a student with special needs join the school. Her mother found a community grant available, brought the paperwork to the school, and stood at the school gate begging for signatures for a petition to support the application. She then ran around to lots of businesses to get donations, we had a big auction night, and raised enough to put three stair lifts in to allow her to access all areas of the school. We've now got several other students with special needs have since joined the school and are benefiting from the changes. Problem solved, everyone happy.

Work WITH the school, rather than against them, and you'll find you get a much better reception and people more willing to go out of their way to help.

cory Wed 27-Feb-13 23:06:56

I think there is a danger if you are too submissive to the school.

I spend several years being sweet to dd's junior school: by the end of it, I realised that they were making her crawl up the stairs on her hands and knees to get to her maths lessons because they thought it too much effort to simply change the timetable so her set was the one taught in one of the downstairs rooms. When she was unable to carry on doing this, she got not maths lessons at all. They also refused to let her use the disabled toilet because they thought it would be better to keep it clean for visitors.

Basically, I had spent so much time being submissive and understanding that they thought that I would never challenge anything.

Of course the school is under no obligation to suddenly magic a new building from thin air. But what they are legally obliged to do is to "make reasonable adjustments", that is to be imaginative about the way they work around the problem.

If your dd cannot access this room is there some other way she could access at least part of the curriculum? Some of it is not practical, so she could do this in the school's inclusion room, or wherever else it made sense for her to work. Or is there some other tech subject she could take instead? They may not be able to do what you would most like, but they don't have the option of sending her home; that is definitely illegal.

I blew a fuse when I opened my dd's school report and found that her teacher thought that she might have done better in maths if she had been able to access the lessons. On investigation it transpired that she had spent a whole term's maths lessons sitting alone in a classroom with worksheets and no tuition- while in adjoining classrooms maths lessons were being given to the lower sets, but her top set was upstairs. In her case, reasonable adjustment could easily have been made by letting the sets switch classrooms.

If you google Disability Discrimination education supplement, you should come upon a handy file which gives examples of reasonable adjustment in an educational setting.

cory Wed 27-Feb-13 23:09:00

Not saying you should go in with all guns blazing; as Midnite says, it is better to show willingness to cooperate. But it might be an idea to drop into the conversation that you are aware of the reasonable adjustments concept, maybe even to make some (practical) suggestions.

dayshiftdoris Thu 28-Feb-13 01:02:50

There is always someone eager to encourage you to work with schools for the greater good when it's not THEIR child being affected in the here and now.

OP has a child in a wheelchair TODAY who is unable to access the curriculum TODAY... grants, petitions, getting funding, working with the school and all of that takes months & months...

And from what OP says the situation might have passed by then.... and when it does there will be no need to meet so they will drop it.

I speak from BITTER experience Midnite - I did exactly what you said...
It changed nothing and worse than that my son was seriously affected by the situation whilst I strove to work with professionals to resolve the situation.

I don't think OP is being confrontational... her daughter has needs that are not being met and she has entered into dialogue with the school for THEM to do THEIR job and meet those needs. It is NOT the OP's responsibility to ensure the school is disabled friendly FFS!

Mum
Have you been in touch with the school nurse? Failing that I would ask for OT and / or physio to do an urgent assessment.
Also prior to your daughter returning to school they should have done a risk assessment & plans in place should things go wrong... for example if she was to end up on the floor out of the chair does she need support to get up & if so what equipment is needed.

sashh Thu 28-Feb-13 01:43:18

They don't have to change the entire school though do they? They could get a baby belling and use a science room for food tech or even the staff room, or any room with a sink.

A laptop in another classroom for IT.

Or let her come home but only with a food tech teacher to teach her one to one, the same for IT.

Neither is ideal, but both would allow her to access the curriculum.

The school sound like they don't want to help.

IAmLouisWalsh Thu 28-Feb-13 07:47:26

Sashh, presumably they would also then have a 1:1 teacher for Food Tech? They can't use the staff room - ours has a microwave and that is it! The whole point is surely about integration.

I am not defending the school - but if our Food room was upstairs we could do nothing to move it. Ours is an old building and we searched for a place to put a lift it there is nowhere.

And I keep coming back to the academy point - regardless of what it may say in law, they own their own funding and seem to be able to do as they please. I have heard of several blowing thousands on iPads and there is sod all anyone can do if that money would be better spent elsewhere.

I agree that OPs daughter is being treated very badly, but at the end of the day the school cannot be 'forced' to do anything unless it is via a long legal process.

mum382013 Thu 28-Feb-13 12:21:01

update got to school this morning and one minibus had been moved. the email must have been read then!

mum382013 Thu 28-Feb-13 12:25:34

i've got the ot coming next week to see her and she will go in school. She has 5 more years at school as she is year 7. and her sister who has the same problem is year 4 so anything they do will help both my children. They are never going to get better sad

MMMarmite Thu 28-Feb-13 13:22:07

I'm furious on your daughter's behalf. She's got enough to deal with without the school making things more difficult. The toilet thing and the minibus thing are awful.

I had a more minor disability at school, and found them very patchy: there were some helpful teachers and some awful ones. You'll have to fight for her rights, unfortunately unless you push for adjustments the school will just try to do what's easiest for them. Try to work out which school staff are sympathetic, and get them on your side to help make things happen. Letters from medical professionals outlining her needs are helpful, and the mumsnet special needs section has people who know the legal situation.

JuliaScurr Thu 28-Feb-13 13:37:39

antiacademies.org.uk/Pre-2010/why-we-oppose-academies/

Yes, part of the problem is that it's an academy - a law unto itself. AAA might be up for fighting your case

if the building can't be adapted, it shouldn't be used as a school
good luck!

willesden Thu 28-Feb-13 14:45:11

Flag everything to the Chair of Governors. That will get things moving.

meditrina Thu 28-Feb-13 14:58:55

Academies aren't exempt from this, just as private schools aren't. It just means a slightly different route for the same complaint.

The fundamental problem is of course the attitude of the school. They should realise that they have a pupils with specific needs RIGHT NOW and of course will have further pupils with additional needs in future. Their clear duty is to provide these pupils with full access to the curriculum and life of the school.

Now there may be some things that are ruled out by the nature of the disability (some DT, perhaps, or doing the lighting for a production) and those just have to be lives with as there is no work around;, anywhere, ever; others may be problematic because of the state of current facilities (listed buildings into which lifts cannot be put, poor layout as a result of earlier decisions on the school estate).

But a school with a good attitude would be commissioning accessibility audits, rearranging timetabling into accessible classrooms, looking to minor redesign to every curriculum option has at least one accessible classroom, ensuring full provision in all new builds etc,

JuliaScurr Thu 28-Feb-13 16:36:23

Willesden good idea

IAmLouisWalsh Thu 28-Feb-13 16:39:13

They are not exempt, but because they are not LA controlled there are fewer options for holding them to account.

mum382013 Thu 28-Feb-13 19:01:39

thank you everyone. End of school the minibuses were back in the spaces sad the school nurse rang and said the head of her house had phoned as she didn't know why she had a wheelchair. So she had forgot the numerous phone calls and the medical info i gave her. i soon put the nurse straight. again not happy

cory Thu 28-Feb-13 20:46:07

A good school will be forward looking and planning ahead on the assumption that sooner or later they will have to deal with disability.

A bad school will be equally surprised every time it happens again.

Dd's HT kept telling us that he had never had to deal with this situation before, though we knew perfectly well that there were other disabled/chronically ill children in the school when dd was there and had been others in the past. He clearly thought parents never spoke to each other.

NUFC69 Thu 28-Feb-13 21:00:12

A head teacher I know is dreading having this kind of problem to solve - his school was built in the 1950s and is on two floors. He has made enquiries about having a lift installed; however because of the design of the school it is not simple and a whole external corridor and lift system would have to be built; he was told it would cost in excess of £250,000! I really don't know what the answer is - there is no way this kind of money could be found.

I am sorry about your problem, Op, I hope it can be resolved.

MMMarmite Thu 28-Feb-13 21:39:19

I'm sorry OP, the school sound absolutely shit sad The upstairs access problem, fair enough, might be difficult, but they're not even making an effort with the basics. I wish I had some useful advice; you have my sympathy.

yanbu

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