Nursery apologises after child with special needs ‘treated less favourably’

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A Co Down nursery school has apologised to the parents of a child with special needs after accepting she was treated less favourably because of her disability.

The parents of Amelie Cummins took a disability discrimination case on behalf of their daughter against Trinity Nursery School in Bangor.

It was lodged with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal was supported by the Equality Commission.

Amelie, who was born with Down’s Syndrome, has a statement of special educational needs which provided for her to attend mainstream nursery school with 22.5 hours of classroom support each week.

Amelie Cummins with her parents Alan and Michelle (Pacemaker/Equality Commission/PA)

They also say that the school wanted Amelie to finish 15 minutes earlier too, but they refused to accept this and removed her from the nursery school three months later, in December 2020.

Her mother Michelle said they felt they had no option but to remove her.

“Amelie has since had a very positive experience in another nursery school and is currently thriving in primary school,” she said.

“We hope that by challenging this behaviour no other disabled child would face a similar situation.”

The case was settled with Trinity Nursery accepting that they treated Amelie less favourably as a result of her disability and that they failed to make reasonable adjustments for her.

The school has also apologised to Amelie and her parents for any upset caused.

“Amelie’s parents wanted her to have the same educational experience as all the other children but felt that they were met with barriers because of her disability,” she said.

“All children must be provided with opportunities to flourish at school, regardless of whether or not they have a disability.

“We welcome, as part of the settlement terms, Trinity Nursery School’s agreement to work with the Commission in respect of its duties under the disability discrimination legislation and good practice in education.”

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