ITV reports that three Northern Ireland schools have settled claims against them and offered apologies after they each refused to accept a disabled child as a pupil in separate cases.
Cases were brought against Wallace High School in Lisburn, St Brigid’s College in Londonderry, and Lislagan Primary School in Ballymoney.
Wallace High disputed plans to place a child with them who has significant mobility difficulties, who uses an electric wheelchair and requires assistance in respect of his personal care. The pupil has always attended mainstream education and has a Statement of Special Educational Needs and a full-time classroom assistant.
An 11-year-old boy with an autistic spectrum disorder which has an adverse effect on his ability to learn, concentrate or understand was refused a place by St Brigid’s, despite being a pupil at a linked primary school. The college stated that it “was not in a position to provide post-primary education” for him.
It was considered that Lislagan Primary made it clear a child with Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus and a mild to moderate learning disability would not be welcome. The child had been attending a nursery school and, when the time came for him to start primary education, his parents, his one-to-one assistant and his occupational therapist, met with the school.
Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission, said: “We have identified a lack of appropriate support during the transition between primary and secondary levels of education as one of the barriers confronting disabled children.
He added: “There is a lesson from these cases for every school. When a disabled child applies for a place, they should proactively give proper consideration to how they can adapt to meet the needs of that pupil.”
Would your school be able to welcome these pupils? What more needs to be done to bring disabled pupils into main stream education? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin