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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?

IAgreeCompletely Sun 16-Jun-13 11:56:12

That will be one of the reasons the school is affordable sad

EndoplasmicReticulum Sun 16-Jun-13 11:57:34

Do you know that any children have applied to the school and been turned down on the basis that they won't be able to manage the stairs?

Have you actually asked the school, rather than other parents?

If you are just worrying about hypothetical children then perhaps you don't need to get worked up.

squeakytoy Sun 16-Jun-13 11:57:38

What do YOU think they should/can do about it? bulldoze the building and rebuild?

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Sun 16-Jun-13 11:58:13

I think over here that all new buildings have to be built wheelchair accessible and have disabled facilities. But older buildings are exempt if they were built before it became regulation. Also if its a listed building then they most likely can't alter the outside if it.

It's very sad though.

WorraLiberty Sun 16-Jun-13 12:00:36

Perhaps the school should start charging more so they can spend the extra money on the building?

shushpenfold Sun 16-Jun-13 12:02:06

I'm interested to see what you think they can do about it too. Reasonable adjustments - yes, build another school - no.

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:03:40

I don't think that private education in this country is restricted by much in the way of legal responsibilities to the general public.
They can select their cohort according to the criteria they set down, and if someone doesn't fit, they can find subtle and unspoken ways of refusing them admittance.

WorraLiberty Sun 16-Jun-13 12:04:09

And what can they do about it being on a hill? confused

Startail Sun 16-Jun-13 12:05:06

UK schools certainly aren't accessible.

You can't get to several bits of the secondary school, DCs with injuries have lessons in a downstairs room.

You could get to all the primary, but only by going out in the rain. Path outside slopes, but inside has steps.

MrsHoarder Sun 16-Jun-13 12:05:22

Older buildings are exempt. The school would be expected to make reasonable adjustment, which I would expect to be try to get a timetable which didn't use stairs if possible.

My 1950s build secondary school didn't have lifts in 2005 (when DB left) and probably still doesn't.

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Sun 16-Jun-13 12:05:26

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:05:28

Why would they bother?
Unless said pupil is from a mega-wealthy family and the parents would pay for any and all adaptations.

livinginwonderland Sun 16-Jun-13 12:05:29

A lot of private schools can't be altered for disabled access. Mine was one of them. All the new buildings (from like, 1995 onwards) had disabled access - ramps and elevators and wide doorways for wheelchairs, but the main school building is from the 1800's.

It can't be demolished or altered because it's a listed building. The school just have to do their best to timetable lessons so that children with mobility issues don't have lessons there. When I was there, we had classes up four flights of stairs - there was no way you could get up there on crutches or in a wheelchair.

What do you propose they do? Bulldoze the entire school?

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Sun 16-Jun-13 12:06:01

The other local school, is it disabled friendly? If its not then over here the locally authority would most likely allocate a school that they are able to attend and possibly even pay for transport. Do you know where these kids go?

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

In state primary, we've done it by shuffling around room allocations and resources so that a child with a disability would have tailored access to what they needed. Done it at least three times IME.
That's with a school that also has a wheelchair lift already in place.

xylem8 Sun 16-Jun-13 12:10:00

'I am actually upset that a physically disabled child would not have the choice of a better school, more caring enviroment etc.'

YABU. what about all the children who can't afford to go there.Are you upset for them too?

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sun 16-Jun-13 12:10:22

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!

That happens in state schools here. When DS was on crutches after an accident on the school playing field that was what was put in place for him so he could move about school. I didn't find it shocking to be honest, I thought it was quite a reasonable plan of action. His school was an old building and had very few adaptations for children with disabilities because the building didn't allow for it.

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:11:38

Exactly. I've never understood their right to charitable status either.

loopyluna Sun 16-Jun-13 12:15:41

I don't expect them to bulldoze the hill! I was just giving background.
All private schools in this country cost, more or less, the same. That's not why this school is affordable.
And yes, I'm only worrying about hypothetical pupils, so probably shouldn't get worked up about it, but it just strikes me as unfair.

Practically, they could, without too much difficulty, make a couple of classrooms on the ground floor. Each class has its own classroom, the pupils only move for science, art and music, so it would be possible.

Maybe they would consider doing this if someone kicked up a fuss. 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.

littlewhitebag Sun 16-Jun-13 12:16:07

My DD is at a private school in UK. Part of the school is very old and would not be accessible for those with physical disabilities. They cannot change this as it is a listed building. Unfortunately a physical disabled child would need to go elsewhere.
I know of a child who had to attend a state school outwith her catchment area as she was in a wheelchair. It really is not possible for all schools, especially older ones, to be adapted. All new builds however, are accessible.
This may make you sad but sometimes nothing can be done.

AmberLeaf Sun 16-Jun-13 12:17:01


Am I shocked at the 'tough shit' attitude some replies seem to have? No.

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:19:00

I like the fact that you are thinking about theoretical children rather than your own interests OP, it's one of the things that makes change so difficult to effect. People usually only care if it directly affects them, so well done for being the exception.

Eyesunderarock Sun 16-Jun-13 12:19:37

<waves to Amber from under my namechange> grin

loopyluna Sun 16-Jun-13 12:19:42

Ixylem: if the parents of a disabled child wanted their child to go to a private school here, they could afford it. For families on benefits, we're talking £50 a month.
The education system is very different to the UK's.

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