Theme: Disability, Children and Youth.
For Disability History Month, Hannah and Paul described their experiences at school and their recommendations for pupils in 2023.
Which school did you go to?
Currently, I support disabled children to achieve a great experience in their specialist school. I was at a mainstream school, with thirty pupils in my class and two hundred pupils in my school year.
What was your experience at school?
Sadly, I had a difference experience at school over twenty years ago. I was given extra learning support, which involved a dictator phone, having support with writing class notes and sitting at the front. But the other pupils saw this as having special treatment. So, I was teased for being a teachers pet. However, despite getting teased and bullied, I achieved good GCSEs.
How were you treated?
I was spun around in my wheelchair spitefully. I found the school corridor a nightmare when other pupils were charging passed me from all directions.
What would you say to your mainstream school?
I recommend having disability awareness training for pupil, students, teachers and staff to support creating a world that embraces disability and includes everyone. The awareness training could cover:
- how we treat someone who isn’t like you
- how we can make disabled pupils feel welcome
- ask for feedback and keep listening to a disabled person’s wants and needs at school
Which School were you at?
I was at Claremont School for nine years. It’s a state specialist school for pupils aged from two to nineteen. The school caters for young people with physical disabilities, as well as for profound, multiple and severe learning difficulties. I have gone full circle, by reuniting with classmates from Claremont School when I joined Paul’s Place eighteen Months ago.
What was your experience at Claremont School?
Claremont School prepared me for life. I had a good network of friends. But some pupils had more severe disabilities than me.
How did a mixed abilities class make you feel?
Sometimes, I felt a bit weary, as some pupils had personality disorders. I recommend having personality disorder awareness training in schools, so everyone’s aware, as Claremont School encouraged us to blend in with people, with communities and with the school environment.
What would you say to your younger self?
I think I have done well for myself. I like where I am now and what I am able to do. Be excited about the future.
What would you say to pupils at Claremont School?
Keep talking to people you find interesting. If you bottle-up your thoughts and feelings you will become angry, which is no good for your future. You make you. You can’t change the past, but you can learn to have a brighter future by talking to people.