Bristol

Blind pupil asked to stop using white cane in school

Kristy and Lily-Grace Hooper Image copyright Tony Cooney
Image caption Kristy Hooper said her daughter had been using her cane in school since April

A blind schoolgirl has been asked to stop using her white cane in school due to health and safety concerns.

Seven-year-old Lily-Grace Hooper was told she could not use her cane at Hambrook Primary School in Winterbourne Down near Bristol.

Her mother Kristy Hooper said she was "devastated" when she was told of the decision last Thursday.

The school stressed the measure was a temporary one while the situation was discussed with the family.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The school said health and safety issues were raised following a recent risk assessment

Ms Hooper, who first spoke to the Bristol Post, said her daughter suffered from severe sight impairment after she suffered a stroke at four days old.

She had been using the lightweight cane in school since April without issue, her mother added.

"When I picked her up on Thursday her teacher said... Lily-Grace could no longer bring her cane into school. I was quite shocked," Ms Hooper said.

'Temporary measure'

"Lily-Grace is quite sad because she likes to use her cane because of the independence it gives her."

Head teacher Jo Dent said: "The pupil has not been banned from bringing in their cane, we have simply asked them to not use it around school as a temporary measure until we have the chance to meet with the parent and discuss the situation.

"It was initially hoped we would have this resolved within a day or two.

"The school's mobility officer raised health and safety issues around the new cane following a recent risk assessment.

"We have to consider all of our pupils, so it is important that we have an opportunity to discuss the situation before we make any decisions.

"We are very keen to resolve this issue as soon as possible and have been actively seeking to engage with the parent to bring this to an agreeable conclusion."

Geoff Cox, from the Health and Safety Executive, said there was nothing in HSE regulations that would stop a child "from using a walking stick in school".

He said it was up to those involved to work out "sensible" arrangements.

"I hope common sense prevails here," he said.

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