Disabled Dunstable student ‘excluded’ from trip

All Saints Academy
All Saints Academy

A disabled pupil was excluded from attending a daytrip after a Dunstable school failed to be adequately insured, her mother claims.

The woman says she received a phonecall from All Saints Academy on Thursday evening explaining that her 13-year-old daughter would be unable to attend a planned trip to Thorpe Park the next day with other pupils.

She said: “I was told they didn’t have the right insurance and could I please pass the message on to my daughter.

“I told them it was discrimination and I didn’t think it was acceptable. The first thing my daughter said was, ‘that’s all I need to make me look like a freak’.

“She’s already been bullied at the school and she was too upset for most of the weekend to talk to me.”

The trip to Thorpe Park was organised by the academy as a reward for pupils’ good behaviour and had been prepared for weeks in advance.

The woman said: “My daughter’s been known to them since 2015. She does sports in line with her abilities.

“I know Thorpe Park and I know that they have good disabled access. My daughter isn’t adventurous and she wouldn’t have gone on any dangerous rides. She usually just looks at the stalls.”

The woman claims it was suggested to her by the school that she should have volunteered at an earlier stage to go on the trip with her daughter.

She said: “Can you imagine the bullying she would have got because she couldn’t go anywhere without mummy?”

In a statement to the Dunstable Gazette, All Saints Academy vice principal Elaine Boyd said: “We are very sad that it did not prove possible to include one student in the recent trip to Thorpe Park.

“This decision was not taken lightly and was supported by external advice. The decision was only taken after determined efforts to find a way of including the student recognising the benefits she and others would gain from the trip.”

A school spokesman added: “The decision was based on careful risk assessment and the new medical informationr eceived from the child’s mother on Tuesday afternoon before the trip on Friday, leaving only two working days to make a decision.

“All Saints was only able to respond to contact from the student’s mother the day before the trip in the afternoon, having come to the conclusion that participation in the trip was unlikely to be possible in light of the medical information supplied.

“The school’s special education needs manager rightly referred to the issue of insurance in her contact with the student’s mother but this was only one factor she mentioned. The fundamental ground for having no option but to withdraw the student from the trip was the risk assessment done by the school in response to the new information provided by the child’s mother.

“The school also made determined efforts to contact the student’s mother during the course of Thursday afternoon and evening to discuss the school’s revised risk assessment and to make a final attempt at finding a way forward, if the advice supported that action.”

But the girl’s mother said: “I just feel they overreacted to the situation and made a knee-jerk decision.

“She doesn’t have sufficient medical needs to be educated at home. I’ve taken her to see our GP and he was surprised that they made that decision.”