Nurseries Shut To Disabled Children
In recent months, there have been an increasing number of reports of children being unable to enrol in schools and nurseries due to a disability. Despite the fact that discrimination is illegal, disabilities are still looked at in a very negative light. There have been several cases where disabled children have been mistreated in both nurseries and schools. It is clear, much improvement needs to be made in order to make education fair for able-bodied and disabled children alike.
An inquiry was made looking into this by the charity Sense (which helps people who are deafblind or have a sensory impairment) and found that 51% of disabled children had been turned down by at least one playgroup. This may be because the nursery schools do not have the facilities to help a disabled child prosper in their social, emotional and physical development. Another inquiry chaired by former Education Secretary Lord Blunkett found that all too often, the parents of children with multiple needs point to barriers they face in accessing and enjoying play. With 6% of children having a disability, shouldn’t all nurseries be able to help them?
Nurseries should be set up so that disabled children can be enrolled there. This could involve spacing the tables out enough to fit a wheelchair through and using brightly coloured posters and letters so that children with visual impairments can learn easily. Many nurseries already offer activities and resources that disabled children will find critical for advancing their development. These activities include using soft clay to strengthen hand muscles, and refining fine-motor skills by threading needles and sewing.
Hindering a child’s play could give them problems as they grow older. These problems could include socialising and other forms of communication with other people. Different disabilities mean different resources are needed to give the best experience for a child; however, if the child is offered a statement of special needs by the local authority, the government will offer to fund some of the child’s development with the money going towards the salary of a Learning Support Assistant and specialised equipment and resources. This means it wouldn’t be just up to the nursery to assist these children through their growth.
Jules, who works for a nursery in Buckinghamshire, told us, ‘Children are incredibly accepting and almost casual about the disabilities their friends and peers might have. Many children find it easy to ask other children about their disability because there isn’t the awkwardness that could occur if an adult was questioning a child about it.’ However, Jules also told us she had heard negative comments from a parent who was uncomfortable with disabled children attending the same nursery as her daughter, the mother commenting that 'all these disabled children are holding my daughter back.' Another parent worried if any of the other parents had witnessed her child having an epileptic seizure - as if it was something to hide. This shouldn’t be the case and children shouldn’t feel as though they can’t do things because they are being held back by a disability.
In conclusion, there is no question that children with disabilities must be allowed the same rights as those without, and so nurseries and preschools should have sufficient facilities and resources to accommodate a disabled child in the best possible way. It is essential that instead of hindering a disabled child, we must be introducing means which enable them to develop and be educated in same way that those without a disability may take for granted.