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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 18:08 GMT
School 'did not discriminate' against boy
tom white at home
Tom White and his family are suing the school
A school at the centre of a legal row over a diabetic teenager's right to go on school trips has denied it discriminated against him.

Tom White, 16, was told he could not go on a watersports holiday in France in 2000 after suffering a hypoglycaemic attack on a skiing trip the previous year.

Preston County Court gave the teenager the go-ahead to sue Clitheroe Grammar School for discrimination on Thursday.

Headteacher Stuart Holt said he expected the school to be completely vindicated in the courts.

Tom... deserves to have access to school activities. It was wrong to exclude him

Bert Massie, Disability Rights Commission

The court decided that Tom should be allowed to pursue a claim against the school under the Disability Discrimination Act.

At the moment the disability legislation does not cover education.

The court's ruling was on the basis that the school trip was not part of his formal education.

Tom has also been banned by the school from an exchange trip to Germany.

This was important to his GCSE German course - but because it was an educational trip, he has no protection under the law.

Mr Holt said: "The Preston County Court decided, and only decided, that the German exchange trip is not within the ambit of the Disability Discrimination Act, but that the watersports holiday is with the ambit of that Act.

"It is wholly inaccurate... to suggest the court decided that the school acted illegally.

Stuart Holt
Mr Holt said discrimination had not taken place

"The school's position is that discrimination has not talen place on the grounds of Thomas White's diabetes.

"We expect to be vindicated in the courts in due course,"

Tom's cause was taken up by the Disability Rights Commission which believes it is the first time such a case has been brought against a school.

The chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, Bert Massie, said it was "a victory for common sense".

"Tom, like any other disabled pupil, deserves to have access to school activities. It was wrong to exclude him," he said.

"From next September, disabled pupils and students will have new anti-discrimination rights in the education system which should prevent blanket bans against disabled students."

Tom said: "All I wanted was to be treated like everyone else.

"I hope that no other pupil has to suffer discrimination of this nature. At last I can go on trips with my school friends - all I wanted was to be treated like everyone else, not to be made to feel different just because I have diabetes."

The BBC's Richard Wells
"A victory for common sense by a determined school boy"

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See also:

06 Dec 00 | Education
Anti-bias law for disabled pupils
19 Oct 00 | Education
School sued over diabetic ban
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