The school council of a special school in Pembrokeshire took up the challenge to get the local authority to adapt the roads near the school to ensure students using wheelchairs had safe, easy access to the local supermarket.
The special school is very inclusive and has an active school council. A group of students in the sixth form asked the school council to check out the route to the local supermarket, as it was difficult for them to manoeuvre their wheelchairs over the kerbs to cross the roads.
The school council:
- arranged to walk this route with one of the students who uses a wheelchair, to see what obstacles on the route made the journey difficult. Two different routes were taken to see if there were viable alternatives;
- concluded that the only way that the students could get to the local supermarket, to do their shopping for their meal preparation, was by negotiating a very difficult high kerb, or crossing a very busy main road;
- produced a PowerPoint presentation to show the local council what the problems were; and
- delivered their presentation to the headteacher and asked for her support.
The headteacher invited the Access Officer for the local authority to visit and the pupils also involved a local councillor to come to school and watch their presentation. The access officer agreed to walk the route with the students and subsequently took their information to the County Council’s transport department.
The headteacher, local authority access officer and local councillor acknowledged the findings and fully supported the students.
The Council sent a letter to the pupils to acknowledge the difficulties and to say that the necessary work would be carried out by the following April. This work, which included dropping the kerbs on the route and putting in a traffic calming measure, was completed within a short time frame. The students were delighted that their voice had been heard and that the necessary adjustments had been prioritised. The school council held a planning meeting to discuss how best to respond to this request, particularly as it was out of school and in the community. The headteacher, local authority access officer and local councillor had acknowledged and supported their recommendations.