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School being unfair because of chronic illness, advice?

carolr9978carolr9978 Posts: 6Member Listener
Hi. I am new to this forum and in need of urgent advice. My 15yr old yr11 daughter has a chronic illness of which she is receiving medical attention for and awaiting hospital appointment. It causes her to sweat/flush badly and has doctors letter for school to allow her to remove her blazer so she doesn't overheat/faint/vomit. The new power mad head has insisted she wears this & threatened exclusion (before letter given) even though we had been in to the school. My daughter is now made to wear a bright green lanyard round her neck for being medically excempt. Under no circumstance can she take this off. She is being highlighted to all the other students as having a medical condition and is being made the subject of bullying. This is not only happening to her but others who have incorrect school shoes for chronic foot conditions/injuries. This is not right and such an unjust/unfair school policy that I cannot believe was ever passed. I want to put a stop to it now but instead of me going down as an angry parent what laws etc are they breaking? Have heard of SENDA is this inc.? Any help advice appreciated. TIA x

Replies

  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,856Member Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @carolr9978, and a warm welcome to the community!

    Goodness, I'm so sorry to hear this- it sounds like a really difficult situation for both you and your daughter. I'm tagging in @melaniethorley and also @Geoark in the hope that they'll be able to point you towards any relevant policies/laws that could be helpful. Please do keep us updated, and we'll assist where we can.
  • carolr9978carolr9978 Posts: 6Member Listener
    Thankyou so much. Yes it is difficult for her at the moment. It is her final important year for GCSEs and I don't want this impacting. She has always been happy in school and achieving well but feels as though she is being bullied by the head as well as the other kids. From what I have looked at, I don't believe she is protected disabled act as she not classed disabled, just long term illness. But long term meaning NHS waiting queues and times between appointments etc. I did see on .gov website that all schools should have a care policy in place for those with long term medical needs. But I saw this as kids with more serious complex illnesses??? I went into the school last week and explained the situation to head yr11 & spoken several times this term on phone to her but at no time has the head tried to contact me. She had a shouting match with my daughter in front of a class of kids, after I had seen yr11 head, wanting to know if she had gp, who, what medical condition, consultant, when, why, you don't look I'll, collapse in front of me then I will believe you, you know I went a&e from here 'that was end last term get over it', you know I started losing my sight 'that was end last term' .nasty piece of work talking to my child like that. Then she dares to say I know a lot more about you than you than you will ever know. My daughter said what is that mean and she laughed. We came out of DV and our court records etc on file. That is bullying at its finest. If she ever referred to that I would go mad. 
    If anyone else could help it would be great. I think the teachers are struggling too but have to go along with. I have health issues too. I have seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, cluster headaches and bilateral frozen shoulders. X
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,124Community champion Pioneering
    Hi @carolr9978 and welcome to the community.

    I would be surprised if you were not angry, as a parent of an autistic young lady had her school done this I would have asked them why they don't just stick a black triangle on their blazers. For me this is just plain wrong on so many levels.

    Okay, putting emotions aside, the first thing I would suggest is you contact IPSEA https://www.ipsea.org.uk they will be able to inform you of any laws being broken or any other serious breaches.

    I would definately recommend that you and your daughter start keeping a diary of what is going on and when.

    Can I ask what type of school your daughter goes to, ie academy, community school (run by the local authority), free school, faith school or some other variant? I have come across teachers and headteachers like this and they are a nightmare and difficult to deal with.

    It may also be worth going back to your doctor and explain what is going on.

    It does sound like you are going to have to make a formal complaint, but wait and see what IPSEA say in the first instance.

    I will do some research and come back if I find anything.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • dignifieddolldignifieddoll Posts: 52Member Connected
    Thats awful surely there must be some laws or something like discriminations etc that the school head is guilty of breaking anything that puts a stop to it tia dont give up your right and im sure there are many people that feel same as you and i 
  • carolr9978carolr9978 Posts: 6Member Listener
    Thankyou both. Trying hard, difficult to, to keep my emotions out of this but feel in this instance is the best way to go. If I went down there ranting she will just say its school policy get over it. 
    However I know its wrong but I just need to update myself on the laws/policies/discriminations etc as I have never dealt with this particular issue. I am an ex school governor haha that dealt with bullying, child protection, PHSE etc. Was vice chair and dealt with exclusions and done interviews. I am NVQ5 HSC. However, because of my illness and meds my speech and thinking isn't too clear at no and can come across quite thick and people sometimes take advantage of that or put me down so I avoid situations. So in all as I know this is wrong I would like her to think sh e is winning re no contact, find all relevant info and then smack her with it along with a formal complaint same time. I will contact that link you gave me thanks. It is an academy school she attends. They changed sponsor about 4yrs ago and been making changes since but this head was teacher last term came back as new power crazed head trying to instil loads changes. Kids and staff scared to breath. Thanks for your help
  • PositiveThinkerPositiveThinker Posts: 4Member Listener
    Hi Carol. Under the Equality Act 2010 the school is directly discriminating by singling out and treating disabled children differently to those who are not disabled. In my view you have a clear case. Also, the Act protects those with disabilities in that it requires that they are treated with respect and dignity, something that the school is clearly not doing. Stay strong. I wish you all the best. Marion x
  • carolr9978carolr9978 Posts: 6Member Listener
    Thankyou Marion. However, I don't believe my daughter is classed as disabled for having a health problem??? So as such as I see is not protected by disability discrimination laws??? She is inciting bullying by making the kids wear the tags. Also I am not sure if she is in breach of medical confidentiality? OK she hasn't named the conditions the child has but she has singled out and highlighted to every teacher/student that she has a specific illness requiring a doctors note/letter. Would you say that is a breach??? Thankyou for your time x
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,124Community champion Pioneering
    Hi @carolr9978

    You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

    What ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ mean

    • ‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial, eg it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed

    • ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more, eg a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection

    Source: https://www.gov.uk/definition-of-disability-under-equality-act-2010

    It depends on how long your daughter has been ill and how long it is likely to last. More guidance can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/570382/Equality_Act_2010-disability_definition.pdf

    Likely to collapse and need medical help I would say meets the substantial part, you would know if the long term part applies or not. 

    Not all academies are the same but in general they do not have a good reputation when it comes to children with disabilities or long term illnesses.

    The other feature of many academies are strict discipline codes and particularly uniform policies. I do not like how they have chosen to go about it but the lanyard is a quick way of informing staff that they have permission to be outside of the normal uniform expectations - the only examples you have given is related to potential uniform breaches. Without identifying that the child has permission to be out of the uniform code your child could be potentially stopped at each lesson and between lessons and challenged for not wearing her blazer.

    As I said I don't like the idea but can see how it is likely to be justified. The question then becomes if it is justifiable and proportianate.

    Justifying discrimination - Citizens Advice


    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/...of.../justifying-discrimination/
    The Equality Act says discrimination can be justified if the person who's discriminating against you can show it's a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. If necessary, it's the courts which will decide if discrimination can be justified.

    So even if it is discrimination it would be for the tribunal/court to decide if it is acceptable.

    If students wearing these lanyards are being targetted by student bullies then this is a seperate issue and one that should be dealt with by the school. Personally I found the head teacher's behaviour in front of other students unprofessional and more likely to lead to bullying, again this is a seperate issue. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Posts: 3,353Member - under moderation Disability Gamechanger
    I think things need to be separated out here. 

    1) Depending on how long she’s had the issue she may well be covered by EA 10. In such a situation it’s better to assert that she is and let the school prove otherwise. You then formally ask for the blazer issue to be addressed as a reasonable adjustment. 

    2) I hear what you’re saying about the teacher and head versus your daughter but in order to make that struck you’re going to need independent witnesses and that seems unlikely so you need to weigh up the merits of making additional accusations that you may not be able to make stick and which may therefore make them wilfully more resistant on the two things you definitely need fixing - the blazer and the lanyard. 

    3) Ditto the bullying by other children. Your posts don’t actually say that this has taken place. More that the lanyards make them vulnerable to it. I think you need to be much clearer with us on this point.

    4) The doctors letter I would guess doesn’t “allow” anything but makes a suggestion which the school can ignore at their own risk. I think you might want to think very carefully about this. You say your daughter went to A&E from school. Why and what was the outcome? Was it a one off? Has she ever fainted or vomited in school since? If not then you’re actually in quite a weak position. If it’s happening daily or weekly then that’s different. If on reality we’re just talking about the possibility it might happen again then you may need to take a step back from the various accusations.

    5) The lanyard is appalling and inappropriate but equally the school do need to have some measure in place. Have you thought through what you would want it to be? Would it be practical, costly, time-consuming etc? They’ve no incentive to change if there’s no evidence of actuall bullying and you haven’t an alternative.

    6) I agree with @Geoark that IPSEA are a fine place to start but I Susie t this is nowhere near as clear cut as it initially presents.

  • carolr9978carolr9978 Posts: 6Member Listener
    Thanks for all your comments. Will get back to you asap. Too much to answer at mo but heard all comments. Been very unwell, son just out hospital with sepsis and DLA - PIP assessment today and trying sort this. Exhausted. Com. Back soon 
  • melaniethorleymelaniethorley Posts: 73Volunteer community advisor Courageous
    Good morning @carolr9978 and fellow forum peoples. The advice you have been given so far is correct - your daughter is covered by the Equality Act. The school sounds horrific but this is what happens when we have schools for profit, and not education. Keeping a journal would be really helpful and anything which can assist your daughter's mental health would also be beneficial. Adding to the advice you have already been given, I would also contact Disability Rights UK as they may have more useful information for you. If I can think of anything else, I will post again. Good luck..
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