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Health News

School Faces Legal Action Over Diabetes Ban

     

      A grammar school is facing legal action for not allowing a diabetic pupil to go on foreign school trips.

      Clitheroe Royal Grammar School in Lancashire is being taken to court by the Disability Rights Commission in the first case of its kind after excluding 15-year-old Tom White from trips abroad.

      Tom, who developed diabetes when he was nine, was told he could not go on a watersports holiday in France despite having been allocated a place and paid a deposit.

      The decision came after the young sportsman had his first severe hypoglycaemic attack caused by a drop in blood-sugar levels while on a skiing trip last February.

      The school, which was founded in 1554, told his parents, Malcolm, 48, and Rosemary, 42, a lecturer of music, that Tom was also unable to take part in a German exchange visit, although he is studying for a GCSE in the language.

      Mr White, a financial advisor said: "Tom is devastated by the ban. It is totally unfair to stop him from going on trips with his friends and other pupils just because he has diabetes.

      "We have tried every channel to get the school to change their minds but they have chosen to ignore the medical, educational and legal experts."

      Tom''s doctors say the schoolboy has an excellent control over his condition, which affects 1.4 million people in the UK. He takes two injections of insulin a day which enables him to lead a normal life.

      Before the skiing trip Mr White provided the school with fact sheet on diabetes and what to do if Tom blacked out. He also gave the party leader Tom''s medication in case his son''s own supply was lost.

      After being told Tom was banned from all the trips Mr White thought at first the problem with the school was ignorance of the illness.

      He said: "We thought that as soon as they heard from an expert, that would be the end of the matter, but they wouldn''t talk to the expert .

      "It''s an arrogance and conceit which is beyond anything that I have ever come across. They are totally defiant that they will not lose."

      Mr White claims that pupils at the school have got away with unruly behaviour and drinking on school trips without being excluded.

      He said at first the school told him the ban was because of Tom''s diabetes then later implied that it was because Tom could not managing his diabetes properly.

      "Tom has never had a day off sick because of the diabetes," said Mr White. "He is fit and even played for the school football team.

      "There are normally warning signs before a hypo, but because Tom was in bed at the time he did not recognised the symptoms of drowsiness. He has not blacked out since."

      The Disability Rights Commission is pursuing legal action under the goods and services section of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

      But the legislation does not cover education, so the DRC can only take action over only the recreational holidays, but not over the German exchange trip.

      DRC chairman Bert Massie said: "It is blatantly unfair to ban Tom because he has had one severe hypo.

      "There is no justification for this. A disabled pupil should have access to the same opportunities as everyone else. It highlights the urgency to put the education system squarely within the bounds of anti-discrimination law."

      Stuart Holt, headmaster of the 1,120-pupil school and sixth form, said he thought it unfair to Tom to comment at this stage.

      He said: "It is a very sensitive case and I am sure when it has gone to court then both sides will have more to say on this matter."

      He said in a letter to Mr and Mrs White that would support teachers who were unwilling or felt unable to take the additional responsibility of looking after Tom.

      The letter said: "The teachers who organised the trip were fully acquainted with his condition and knew the steps to to take.

      "They took those steps with great skill, great determination and great difficulty. They had difficulty in opening his mouth since his jaw had locked when he passed out.

      "In view of this incident I am unwilling for Thomas to join any extra-curricular visits where the organising teacher is unwilling or unable to take this responsibility."

      Visit http://www.schoolsnet.com the UK''s top education site, to access the best on the web for pupils, teachers and parents.

     

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