Inclusion Now 55

ALLFIE’s Day of Action

College student Martine Harding reports back on ALLFIE’s national Day of Action.

Martine Harding knocks on the door of 10 Downing Street while ALLFIE's Simone Aspis carries the petition box

On January 23rd 2020 I travelled to Westminster, London, the heart of British politics. Here I met a group of ALLFIE campaigners and supporters for a national Day of Action. We marched together through the political district to 10 Downing Street, singing “education, not segregation.” This showed me we are powerful when taking action together to help disabled people who want to learn. Which I can relate to.

Delivering a 108,000 signature petition to 10 Downing Street

The petition ‘Don’t Shut Disabled People Out of Mainstream Education’ demands disabled people have their right to be educated in the mainstream realised.

I believe everyone should be in mainstream schools, so they can all learn the essential skills needed in society. Walking up to Number 10 Downing Street and knocking on the famous door, handing over the petition, I feel I am finally getting to have my say on my own education. Having Marsha de Cordova MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, join us on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street highlighted the importance of the petition and of addressing problems in the education system for disabled people. It also shows the Government need to review education in mainstream schools and colleges for disabled people.

Launching the Accessibility Plans Report

Next we walked to the Supreme Court building for the launch of the research report which I was a participant for: ‘Accessibility Plans as effective tools for inclusion: are they working?’ The high profile location fitted the gravity of the research, to debate and discuss the problems in mainstream school for disabled people. Everyone listened intently as the speakers introduced the report and its findings.

The report powerfully and effectively shows the problems in education for disabled people. A the launch it was emotional to hear personal stories read aloud and some people cried while listening to the negative experiences disabled children face in UK education. The report is important to me because the education system has affected me. My struggles with learning now are because I did not get enough support as a child. I hope this report can help others learn how they can change education to help Disabled people.

I was on the Q&A panel because I was one of the participants of the research so I was able to answer questions and show, from my own perspective and experiences, points that need to be improved in the education system. I shared my struggles as a disabled student in mainstream schools and how having support has helped me in college -so much that I now have offers to go to university. I found out I was helping others by showing disabled people can go to university and aim for their dream job. It takes courage and hope to keep fighting to reach my life goals.

Lobbying the Department for Education

Finally we walked to the Department for Education to deliver ALLFIE’s manifesto for inclusion and negotiate a meeting with the Secretary of State for Education. We argued with his secretary, who could not give a written promise a meeting would take place. We showed how real people can fight for their rights in society, some are not listening and we need change to improve. The Day of Action showed me the Government need to improve and how politics works in real life. It has given me courage to continue fighting for human rights for all.

Martine Harding