I am a wheelchair user, a paraplegic since early childhood. I was first employed as a primary teacher in 1977, in Newcastle upon Tyne, first as a maths and science co-ordinator and then, in my present school as an English coordinator. I gave the post up five years ago after the birth of my son. I now work in a job-share post, two days a week.
Certainly, being disabled was a barrier to promotion to deputy or head. It is with some pleasure that I have recently been asked to participate in a day conference relating to "inclusion". I have considerable personal and professional experience in the field.
I initially attended a mainstream infant school in the early 60s but without any support this was too difficult to sustain and I subsequently attended a special school. I was accepted into a local grammar school which set me on my career path for teaching. Entering teacher training in the mid-70s was my next battle before facing the minefield of employment.
I am delighted that now physically disabled children will have greater rights to education alongside their peers. For me and my parents inclusion was always a struggle to achieve. Disabled children in school and disabled adults in the workplace must be the way forward for a developed and educated society.
I would like to think stories like my own might open the minds of those who need to see the childadult first and all their potential, not just their disability. Intelligent and able people must have the opportunity to make a contribution to their society without prejudice.