Disability in children and teenagers is often overlooked. But in reality, there are children who must face obstacles created by their disability every day. One area where this is more difficult than most is at school. Many schools do their best to cater to the needs of disabled students, but there are always ways to improve. So, what can be done to make disabled access better?
Old School Buildings Need Improved Facilities
The most common obstacle for schools is making very old buildings suitable for disabled students. With a large number for schools exceeding what their expected lifespan, a modern, inclusive approach to their construction was not considered during their design. This can leave students with physical limitations struggling to get around their school, or even find a suitable one in the first place. This could result in excessive commute distances to a better suited building or be detrimental to their education on a daily basis.
Of course, many schools do their best to adapt their buildings with lifts, ramps, and other necessary construction and newer schools are better equipped. However, there are the inevitable limitations of available funds, especially when educational budgets are continually stretched.
An Adaption in Disability Support
Improving a school’s disability access goes further than just the physical changes, there is a need to provide the necessary pastoral support for the students who may need it. In primary schools – perhaps due to the smaller number of students – the support for disabled children seems to be less of an obstacle.
However, when moving into secondary school at the age of 11 many fall through the cracks. Areas that are lacking include; tailoring support to specific student’s disabilities, consulting the children themselves about what they need, and a national set of guidelines and strategy to help individual schools.
There’s no doubt that staffing is stretched, which makes improving pastoral care dedicated to disabled students difficult. However, this is where the need for a more proactive approach by council and governmental authorities is needed. A clear set of objectives and an increase in resources can transform the schooling experience for physically disabled students for the better.
What Are the Repercussions of Failing Disabled Students
We’ve mentioned some of the potential repercussions already, such as insufficient access and student care. However, it goes beyond just what can be seen. For disabled students moving into secondary schools the potential of not being able to follow their primary school friends may make the adjustments more difficult, affecting self-confidence. Additionally, by potentially being separated from other students for much of the school day due to poor access they may feel isolated even further.
This potential for isolation makes the need for improved facilities all the more important. So much of the schooling experience is marred by feeling unsure of one’s place, but for disabled students this is currently even more difficult than it is for most.