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Blind pupil asked to stop using white cane in school

Discussion in 'Education news' started by chelsea2, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I'm still trying to work out the H&S risk.....

    'A blind schoolgirl has been asked to stop using her white cane in school due to health and safety concerns.
    Seven-year-old Lily-Grace Hooper was told she could not use her cane at Hambrook Primary School in Winterbourne Down near Bristol.
    Her mother Kristy Hooper said she was "devastated" when she was told of the decision last Thursday.
    The school stressed the measure was a temporary one while the situation was discussed with the family.
    Ms Hooper, who first spoke to the Bristol Post, said her daughter suffered from severe sight impairment after she suffered a stroke at four days old.

    She had been using the lightweight cane in school since April without issue, her mother added.
    "When I picked her up on Thursday her teacher said... Lily-Grace could no longer bring her cane into school. I was quite shocked," Ms Hooper said. "Lily-Grace is quite sad because she likes to use her cane because of the independence it gives her."

    Head teacher Jo Dent said: "The pupil has not been banned from bringing in their cane, we have simply asked them to not use it around school as a temporary measure until we have the chance to meet with the parent and discuss the situation.

    "It was initially hoped we would have this resolved within a day or two. The school's mobility officer raised health and safety issues around the new cane following a recent risk assessment. We have to consider all of our pupils, so it is important that we have an opportunity to discuss the situation before we make any decisions. We are very keen to resolve this issue as soon as possible and have been actively seeking to engage with the parent to bring this to an agreeable conclusion."

    Geoff Cox, from the Health and Safety Executive, said there was nothing in HSE regulations that would stop a child "from using a walking stick in school". He said it was up to those involved to work out "sensible" arrangements. "I hope common sense prevails here," he said.'

  2. Anonymity

    Anonymity Occasional commenter

    Appalling. I have no words.
  3. Katierobertson

    Katierobertson New commenter

    Really! What will they do if the girl gets a seeing eye dog? Is this inclusion in action?
  4. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Why, on earth, did the HT listen to the 'school's mobility officer'? Can't the Head make up her own mind? If he can't what is paid for?

    Frankly the HT needs removing....
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  5. anotherauntsally

    anotherauntsally Lead commenter

    Depends on whether or not she's been trained - and is sensible enough - to use it properly. I would have thought that the mobility officer would have been providing training round the school, duplicating situations the child would normally experience, prior to her using it regularly there - and making sure the child used it safely (for herself and other children) before allowing her to use it unsupervised.

    A long cane is not a walking stick but I think they can both be a danger if not used properly. I saw a child in a pram in town nearly have a nasty accident because someone using a long cane lifted it so far off the ground that it would have hit her in the face if someone hadn't noticed and taken avoiding action.

    I taught in a secondary school which had two long cane users. If she thought she could get away with it, one would stick out her cane for pupils she didn't like to trip over (friend told her when to do it) but the corridors were usually far too busy during changeover for anyone trying to use a cane, anyway. The pupils had the choice of either leaving class a few minutes early or letting a friend act as a sighted guide in enclosed spaces. Mostly they chose the latter.

    I don't think we know enough of the facts here to be making judgments.
    Lascarina likes this.
  6. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    'Hi could you stop using that wheelchair around school'

    'What do you suggest I do?'

    'We were thinking you could drag yourself along the floor.'
  7. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Example of school following government action (in removing the access to work funding for disabled people). Oh, you didn't get an education because of your disability and because you were unable to use appropriate help in school? That's your fault for being blind. Here's a suggestion: Study your way out of your predicament. What? you can't because you can't access the education? not my problem mate.

  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

  9. anotherauntsally

    anotherauntsally Lead commenter

    You know this? I thought it was the mobility officer who had done the risk assessment? Likely, unless it's a special school, that the school would have a contract with an organisation like Guide Dogs for this or use one from the LA's VI service. I have great admiration for mobility officers but I wouldn't work as one for love or money. Would you? The responsibility would stress me out.

    I've worked in schools where pupils used long canes as I've already said - and since Guide Dogs reduced the age threshold for owning one, there have also been pupils with guide dogs in schools I've been in. I know that extensive training is needed for anyone who uses a long cane - this applies even more when a guide dog is used (for both dog and user, obviously). For either, some training is also needed for the rest of the school's pupils. If the mobility officer has safety concerns, where would the buck fall if nothing was done and something happened? It's their job to assess risk. The Head can't afford not to listen to them. It seems that the problem has arisen since the child got a new cane. She may need time to get used to it - or it may not be the best cane for her. I wonder where it came from - was it provided by a qualified children's mobility officer? Whether crossing over the road or finding their way around the school, pupils must have the skills to use their long cane (which must be corrected for their height as they grow and have the most suitable tip, etc., for the users) for getting around safely, surely, before being allowed to use it independently.

    Unless there's been an update since I last read the report, some of you need to get off your high horse and just accept that you're not the experts in this.
    Lascarina likes this.
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    A charity for blind children called, ironically enough, Common Sense Cane. It's mentioned in the article. People who looked would have seen it. Ironically enough.

    How long do you suggest that this child is withdrawn from school to take lessons in using a cane with due care and attention before she may sit an exam to prove her competence?
    monicabilongame likes this.
  11. anotherauntsally

    anotherauntsally Lead commenter

    Not necessarily. That wasn't in the article when I read it - but I'm sure you're aware it's been updated. And the latest picture shows a cane that looks to be far too big for the child. I haven't a clue who Common Sense Cane are but Guide Dogs recommend a cane that comes up to the middle of the chest, so I'm not surprised Sensory Services have reservations (they weren't named in the article, either, when I read it before making my previous post).

    Well, I can't speak for all schools but the mobility officers who came to ours used to do outdoor, long cane training during the holidays as parents are also required to be involved. And there's no need to be facetious - there is obviously no 'sitting' of an exam but mobility officers have to be convinced of pupils' competence.
  12. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    I agree.
    anotherauntsally likes this.
  13. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    I agree.
    anotherauntsally likes this.
  14. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    The reference to Common Sense Cane is not in the updated section.

    How do you know it is far too big for this child? Are you a 'qualified children's mobility officer' and have you worked with this child?

    You may not be aware but seven year-olds are proportioned differently to adults.

    Then it is your recommendation that this child be removed from school until January 2016. Lovely.

    Do they? By which law?
  15. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

  16. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    Are you and have you?
    anotherauntsally likes this.
  17. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    No but I'm willing to credit further the judgement of a charity dedicated to the provision of canes to blind children than I am that of someone who throws in a couple of dubious personal anecdotes and then suggests we should wait for facts. What facts we're supposed to await hasn't been said.
    kent1 likes this.
  18. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    I feel sure that anyone with a sense of fairness would want disabled people to have as much independence as is possible. But safeguards are still necessary. About 5 years ago I was knocked over by someone in the supermarket using a mobility scooter that they had not been trained to operate. I was standing at the checkout when the person in the mobility scooter accelerated into me. I suffered cuts, grazes and bruises and was very shaken. This is a personal anecdote about which there is nothing dubious. It illustrates the fact that training is needed to use mobility aids. I don't know exactly what the problem is in the case of the use of the long white cane but neither, I suspect, do you, Vince Ulam.
  19. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    You must have missed my last post and its reference to personal anecdotes. If some old biddy near runs me down with a mini tractor then I swear at her under my breath - I don't take away a cane from a blind seven year-old.
  20. anotherauntsally

    anotherauntsally Lead commenter

    Not when I first read it.

    Really? Maybe that's one of the reasons schools and LAs employ mobility officers who have been specifically trained to work with children?

    Eh? I think it's your turn now to read what's actually been written. Where did I say that?

    Do you not think it's a good idea that parents should have some training, too, so that they can ensure the child continues to use the cane correctly? Can you imagine how difficult it must be for a parent, initially, to allow their blind child to go out independently? They need to be convinced they'll be safe. Obviously I wasn't referring to seven year olds but they need some outdoor mobility training, too.

    ? Don't know what you mean but I'm sure parents wouldn't be very happy if their child was allowed to travel independently with a long cane without having achieved enough competence for them to be assured of their safety.

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