A Grammar school discriminated against a visually impaired boy by refusing to provide him with an exam with larger type.
The case has prompted the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to write to all Grammar schools.
It reminded them of their legal obligation not to discriminate against disabled students.
Grammar school discriminates against visually impaired boy
The boy applied for enrolment in the Reading School in Berkshire, England.
However, he could not sit the 11-plus entrance exam because the school failed to make reasonable adjustments.
For example, it failed to provide a test with larger type to make it easier to read.
The boy’s mother said:
“As someone who grew up with a severe vision impairment myself, I benefited from a supportive learning environment, and that’s all I want for my children.
“When my son heard he was unable to sit the exam he was upset and in tears, particularly as he had worked hard to prepare for them.”
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School failed it’s legal obligation
In England, the Disability Discrimination Act, in addition to the Equality Act, make it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of a disability.
The Royal National Institute for Blind People supported the boy’s legal claim in the government’s tribunal on special educational needs and disabilities.
The tribunal found that the Reading School had a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled applicants could access the exam.
As a result of the case, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has written to all Grammar schools in England to ensure their 11-plus entrance exams are accessible to disabled pupils.
Rebecca Hilsenrath from the Commission said:
“It is the law that disabled children are entitled to equal access to education, and in 2020 we shouldn’t have to be reminding schools of their responsibility to make exams inclusive.”
The boy subsequently received a place at another grammar school that waived the requirement for him to sit the 11-plus.
His mother said:
“Fortunately, my son started at grammar school last week and is settling in brilliantly.
“It’s now our hope that other grammar schools ensure their entry exams are accessible to all children and that other parents of disabled children don’t experience the frustration and barriers that we did.”
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says it is unlawful to discriminate against someone based on disability.
“The law applies to employment, but also to education,” he said.
“This boy’s experience is an open and shut case of unlawful discrimination.
“Anyone who has experienced similar treatment in Australia will have a strong claim for compensation, and should get in touch with us.”
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