More than two thirds (70%) of disabled teachers have been discriminated against, isolated or excluded at work because of their disability, a conference organised by the NASUWT, the teachers union, has heard.
The shocking finding came as disabled teachers gathered in Birmingham today (Saturday) for the NASUWT’s annual Disabled Teachers’ Consultation Conference to discuss the challenges facing them as disabled teachers and to engage in professional development workshops.
Delegates raised serious concerns about the lack of support for disabled teachers in the workplace, including a lack of access to reasonable adjustments and discriminatory attitudes from employers and colleagues in schools.
A real-time electronic poll of participants also found that;
More than than half (58%) of disabled teachers say they have witnessed or have been the victim of a hate crime in the last 12 months;
More than two thirds (69%) said their job had made the symptoms of their condition worse in the last 12 months;
75% of members felt that teachers with ‘invisible’ conditions were more likely to face discrimination in the workplace than those with visible impairments;
Nearly one in five (19%) of disabled teachers said excessive workload was their main concern with regards to their job;
22% of teachers said the pressures of the job and workload were most likely to have the greatest bearing on whether or not they would be working as a teacher in five years’ time;
And almost a third (32%) of disabled teachers said they felt anxious about asking their employers for time off to attend medical appointments.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Too many disabled teachers are having to deal with a climate in which they are being discriminated, isolated and excluded at work because they are disabled.
“The experiences we have heard from disabled teachers today of the prejudice they have experienced at their schools and in their careers is completely unacceptable.
“Discrimination against disabled teachers is blighting careers and denying pupils the benefit of their creativity, knowledge and experience.
“It was shocking that more than half of members have reported witnessing or being a victim of a hate crime.
“Those who are victims of hate crime not only face the trauma of the crime which can rob them of their confidence, their independence and sometimes their lives but also often report the police do not know how to communicate with them properly.
“No teacher should be forced to hide their disabilities or struggle without the reasonable adjustments they need to be able to do their jobs.
“The NASUWT will continue to challenge disability discrimination in individual schools and colleges and continue to press the government on the need for strong regulatory frameworks to eliminate discrimination and to advance equality for disabled teachers in schools and colleges.”