Schedule 18 - Further amendments related to provisions of part 4

Education Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 22nd March 2005.

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Question proposed, That this schedule be the Eighteenth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Shadow Minister (Education)

Paragraph 2(6)(b) concerns access to buildings by special needs pupils. There are funding implications; huge costs are involved. I am a governor of a mixed comprehensive school that has several students who use wheelchairs. Because the school is on two floors, we had to install a lift at great expense, and it was incorporated into the extension that was built when the school obtained special status. There need to be special circumstances if we are to overcome expensive access problems such as installing lifts. Ramps on the ground floor are less expensive and most schools can manage to have those put in. The installation of lifts is a problem for mainstream schools that have students with special needs, particularly those with mobility problems who use wheelchairs or walking aids. For a while, we had to confine our wheelchair users to ground floor lessons. That is not real inclusion. I shall be interested to hear the Minister’s comments on that.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

I know that the hon. Lady is very knowledgeable in this area and has done a lot of work involving special schools and handicapped children. The clause provides for a parent or carer to be served with a penalty notice or prosecuted if his or her child fails regularly to attend—[Interruption.]

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

May I help the Minister? The hon. Lady was talking about schedule 18, specifically paragraph 2(6)(b)(ii) and (iii).

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

I apologise. The best answer that I can give is to say that, when schools are built in future, we shall consider disabled access. If the hon. Lady does not mind, I shall write to her in more detail while we take the matter forward.

Angela Watkinsonindicated assent.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 18 agreed to.

Clauses 118 and 74 ordered to stand part of the Bill.