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  1. ITV Report

Disabled children 'need more support' in Welsh schools

Credit: PA

Disabled children in Wales are not getting enough support when it comes to attending schools of their choice. That's according to a new report by the Children's Commissioner, Sally Holland.

She says she wants to see councils and the Welsh Government play a more proactive role in enabling pupils and their families to make informed choices.

The report shows only one of Wales' 22 local authorities sought the views of young people for their plan on how the authority should improve the experiences of disabled pupils in its school.

The Children's Commissioner says more needs to be done by local and Welsh Governments to change this, so there is less reliance on individual schools to plan for the needs of pupils with physical disabilities.

It's very disappointing that no local authority has been able to demonstrate how it has involved children and young people in producing its accessibility strategy. Without listening to children and their families, it's difficult to see how authorities can effectively assess the provision they currently have in place, or plan improvements.

The needs of disabled children are much more than ramps and rails; there are often issues that will be unique to individuals that can only be understood through dialogue with young people and their parents.

– Sally Holland, Children's Commissioner

Malin, a 14-year-old wheelchair user said his school made adjustments to meet his needs.

Being able to access all areas of the school makes me feel independent, I do not like to feel different from the other children. Nothing has ever been made to make me feel an inconvenience.

– Malin, Ysgol Aberconwy pupil

Immy, a student at Whitchurch High in Cardiff, said more support is needed for young disabled pupils.

There is quite often a gap in support when you go up to secondary school. The secondary school I looked at initially, I couldn't go to because it wasn't accessible or suitable for me. That meant I couldn't go to secondary school with all of my friends.

My secondary school now has six wheelchair users and even though we all have different needs, it's good to see other wheelchair users in my school as well.

I think all nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and workplaces should be completely accessible for all people in wheelchairs.

– Immy, Whitchurch High School pupil

The Welsh Government say they are drawing up new guidance to meet the needs of disabled pupils:

We have developed revised guidance in consultation with the Children's Commissioner and this will be available by the end of the month. The guidance stresses the importance of considering the needs of disabled pupils and also consulting widely with pupils, parents/carers and education staff when forming an accessibility strategy. This helps ensure that the needs of existing and future pupils can be met.

– Welsh Government spokesperson