Lee's is not the only case

9th January 2004 at 00:00
I am delighted to see that Lee Buniak has settled into a new school (TES, December 19).

However, we mustn't forget that Lee's is not an isolated case. The exclusion of Lee from his Christmas play and school photo is a sad, yet disturbingly familiar story. Many children with a learning disability are missing out because schools are failing to meet their needs. It is alarming that the school's inability to recruit qualified teaching assistants is holding back children like Lee. In excluding Lee from his Christmas play, the school is excluding him from the everyday experiences of childhood life.

Mencap has campaigned for children like Lee to be able to use the Disability Discrimination Act and gain access to the support they need and deserve. Access to the curriculum and school activities are at least as important as access to the buildings.

Lee's case is important because so few parents know about their right to make a claim of discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act. Lee was one of the lucky ones. The Disability Rights Commission heard about his case and backed his claim to the tribunal. But only 2 per cent of special educational needs disability tribunal cases are on the grounds of discrimination.

Schools, education authorities and the Government all have responsibilities to publicise the rights of parents to make a claim of unlawful discrimination.

Mencap has also developed a new pack, funded by the Community Fund, to help disabled children complain about the services they use.

To find out more visit www.mencap.org.uklisten

Jo Williams

Chief executive

Mencap

123 Golden Lane, London EC1

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