Child denied school place of his choice

A 12-year-old disabled boy has been denied a place at the school of
his choice because it does not have wheelchair access.

Craig McCarthy, who has cerebral palsy, wanted to go to Duchess
Community High School, in Alnwick, Northumberland, next

But about 40 per cent of the students are taught in an annexe which
has no access for wheelchairs. Instead he will have to undertake a
12-mile journey to another school.

A spokesperson for the education authority said it was “highly
regrettable” that McCarthy and many other disabled children were
unable to go to their chosen school.

But he added that Northumberland local authority had made sure that
addressing the measures in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
was one of its top three priorities, and that £4m had been
earmarked to build a new school within the next two years.

The Disability Rights Commission said that the case highlighted the
importance of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act
2001, which came into force in September. Under the act, every
education authority must show from April next year how it plans to
improve access to all its schools.

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