Getting Around School

Mark Baggley: No Choice

Mark was born in 1960 in Hull and grew up in Scunthorpe. Mark went to his local primary school and then was sent to a residential special school in Lincolnshire at the age of eleven. From there Mark went on to a residential special college in Coventry.

Here Mark talks about the lack of access at his local secondary school.

Transcript

But there was the comprehensive school, Brumby Senior, which was literally next door and that’s where I anticipated going with all my friends. Nobody suggested that I wouldn’t go there. And then we had a school medical at about ten and a half, I think and there was no parents or anybody there and we all sort of lined up to go through we went into the room and these two people and I couldn’t tell you who they were at all, I presume one was a doctor. And they said, 'What are you going to do when you leave here?' And I was like, 'Going to school with my mates and that'.
'We don’t think you’ll cope with that, we think there’s too many steps, you won’t be able to get round the school, it’s going to be too hard for you and we think you ought to go away And I probably was crying, went home, absolutely in tears. Going away at that age to me meant prison or something like that, going away. My parents and my grandma were furious about the way I’d been treated. But the bottom line, when we looked at it, the senior school said I could go but because they were on three floors, I couldn’t do English or Maths. They weren’t willing to move the classrooms at that time. So it seemed like I had no choice really. Obviously going to school and not doing English or maths for the next five years didn’t seem to make any sense. And so much to my regret at the time, they suggested a special school in Lincoln, which was about 25 miles away called St Francis School. I went round to look there and I wasn't really looking forward to going round it. It seemed OK. It’s very hard to make a decision at ten and a half, to know whether you’re going to like it or not. It meant being away from my family from Monday to Friday and away from local friends as well but that was the decision. Looking back I realise how important that was, but there was no Discrimination Act. And I was promised when I went to special school I’d get the same education as I would have done at mainstream school. I was promised that I’d get the best medical treatment and really looking back, that didn’t happen, neither of those things happened. But my parents weren’t really aware of that until my sister started doing the same sort of things and thought this isn’t how Mark was treated.
If it was now, you’d be taken to court on the way they treated you. I mean there’s no way a ten and a half year old, on their own, should have had that conversation anyway, that’s the first thing Certainly not without at least speaking to my parents first and doing that, I think that was appalling. Again knowing what we know now, how hard would it have been to move the classroom? To have English and maths on the ground floor and something else on the top floor. I mean I don’t feel angry about it now because it’s too late to feel angry about it but I do want to make sure that all other disabled people don’t do the same thing and I know it can still happen.