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Council Cancels School Trip Over Disability Discrimination Act Fears

December 24, 2009

A school trip for about 70 pupils has been cancelled because of potential legal action over the exclusion of a disabled child in the group.

The stay at an outdoor activity centre in the Cairngorms has been held annually for children at Inverness’s Crown Primary.

Highland Council has cancelled the trip to Craggan to avoid the action.

The girl’s mother Donna Williamson said her daughter was physically unable to take part in the activities planned.

She told BBC Scotland: “She cannot hold a bow and arrow for example, or go kayaking, because she has no upper body strength.

In the New Year there will be a concerted effort to provide an appropriate out-of-school excursion for all the children
Highland Council spokeswoman

“My daughter would have been excluded in that she would have had to stay in the centre while all the kids went off to do the activities.

“When she wasn’t in the centre she would have been asked to film them kayaking and doing the things she would love to do but she cannot do and I thought that was psychologically a pretty cruel thing to ask a child to do.”

Another parent at the school, Donald Mackenzie, said he was worried the situation could lead to other activities such as music lessons being stopped.

He said there had be a “little bit of give and take” and the activities the children had expected to take part in were not themselves wrong.

Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said he hoped the trip could still go ahead.

He said: “I think it is very sad that the Disability Discrimination Act has been interpreted in this overzealous way by Highland Council given the efforts that the school made to make reasonable adjustments to the trip.”

‘Tried hard’

An alternative trip to Glasgow has also been cancelled by Highland Council.

A council spokeswoman said: “In the light of legal advice relating to aspects of the Disability Discrimination Act and subsequent amendments, the decision was taken to cancel two trips organised by the school.

“The school has tried hard to accommodate the needs of pupils, but such is the complexity of the legislation governing disability discrimination that the council felt it had no alternative at this stage.”

She added: “In the new year there will be a concerted effort to provide an appropriate out-of-school excursion for all the children.”

I remember my school taking me on a similar trip a few too many years ago. I remember enjoying this trip very much. I also remember having to sit in a canoe with two teachers. I fell out of the canoe into (thankfully) shallow water. This, however, may have had less to do with my DisAbility than it had to do with the weight of one of the teachers who was with me. I think those canoes are designed for 10 year olds!

Anyway, special parents, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Is it a law in action, an effort to achieve real inclusion, or political correctness gone mad?

And special children/people, you are more than welcome to share your experiences of similar trips or, well, just school trips in general, in the comments below.

This post is part of the Inclusion Rules! debate at Same Difference.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 24, 2009 2:16 pm

    I’ve commented on this here:

    Merry Christmas!

  2. samedifference1 permalink*
    December 24, 2009 3:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing that link Stacey. Merry Christmas!

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