Asthma UK community forum

No Support from Sports Department

My son struggles with athletics during the hayfever season and in the winter when it is very cold. We approached his school sports department if they could help to improve his fitness after they pointed out his 'lack of fintess' infront of his class. His school is known for excellence in sports, yet his sports teacher informed us that he cannot tailor school sports to suit the requirements of an asthmatic.

Last year, despite having been immunised, he caught whooping cough. We were incredibly fortunate to find an independent trainer outside of school ,who worked with our son to improve his fitness during the summer holidays last year. Unfortunately upon returning to school, he got a chest infection and lost everything he gained. He is frequently teased at school for his lack of sporting prowess. It is hard to maintain consistency or build on any improvements he makes without support from school. Has anyone encountered and overcome such difficulties?

4 Replies

Firstly, how dare a teacher ridicule a child in front of the class. I am a childminder and it goes against equal opportunities policy let alone detrimental to the child's self esteem. Have you thought about reporting the incident? Also that the teacher refused to adapt for an asthmatic? That's discrimination!


I contacted the department, to suggest some specific modifications unfortunately they were not receptive at all. They focus on winning and winners and my son does not want to create a fuss or draw more attention to himself.

I am not certain if there is any legislation or guidance to help asthmatics in independent schools, it does seem that state schools have a much more holistic approach and are perhaps more understanding of what it means to be asthmatic.



This is absolutely terrible!! I can talk from experience of teaching in both state and independent school and say that equal opps, every child matters and all the other things state schools need to follow, independent school also need to follow otherwise this is discrimination! I would even expect independent schools to differentiate and personalise learning more due to the amount you pay for him to be educated and the class sizes etc!!

The clear lack of care of the pe dept is terrible!! Is there any chance you could request a meeting an show his management plan, or even get the asthma nurse to talk to them about his needs? No child should be ridiculed by a teacher ever, let alone infront of his peers!! I'd be tempted to send in a written complaint actually!!

I am a teacher myself and I am hyper aware of the activities I expect my asthmatic students to do and I always ensure they have their relievers with them if they are learning out of the classroom!! I dont plan anything which could trigger them or me off, but they still activrly learn :-) This might possibly be because I am asthmatic myself and understand what it's like/the dangers of a bad asthma attack!!

Hope it gets sorted!!

Laura :-)


As a teacher and asthmatic I am shocked by this attitude but you are right that many independent schools focusing on winning. However, they still need to adapt activities to suit the needs of individuals (they wouldn't set a maths activity which was too hard). I would speak to the school again (perhaps a different person in the department or a personal tutor) and explain exactly how this has made your son feel and emphasis the fact that he wants to improve his fitness. As Laura said, asking the asthma nurse to speak to them or writing a note/email about the importance of physical activity when well may also help. I know when I was at school (which was also independent) my teachers were excellent and always looked out for me (they knew I had a tendency to push myself and would stop me if I was struggling). They also shortened the cross country run/fitness tests if I needed it and made sure I ran with a friend. When I was unable to run due to asthma, they allowed me to stay on the field and set simple exercises for me to complete. Perhaps you (or him) could make some suggestions of things that he can do to show them how easy it is to meet his needs and help him improve his fitness rather than ridiculing him.

I hope you can sort something out with them soon.


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