Former Camden teaching assistant at centre of BBC disabled row

A FORMER teaching assistant from Jack Taylor School is at the centre of a media storm over criticism of her disability. Now a rising children s television presenter, 29-year-old Cerrie Burnell has been thrust into the limelight after it emerged that paren

A FORMER teaching assistant from Jack Taylor School is at the centre of a media storm over criticism of her disability.

Now a rising children's television presenter, 29-year-old Cerrie Burnell has been thrust into the limelight after it emerged that parents had raised concerns about her appearance.

The negative comments from a minority of people have appeared on message boards for the CBeebies programmes in which Cerrie, who was born with one arm, appears.

One comment said Cerrie's appearance is scary while another accused the BBC of positive discrimination.


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Messages of support for Cerrie have since flooded the site and staff at Jack Taylor in St John's Wood have also waded into the argument to offer their backing.

Meanwhile CBeebies controller Michael Carrington has issued a statement saying Cerrie's disability is not an issue.

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"She was appointed because she was the best person for the job. We see no reason for her to try to hide her disability and are surprised that in 2009 this should even be raised as an issue," he said.

Burnell has remained relatively unfazed by the attention and said: "It can only be a good thing that parents are using me as a chance to talk disability with their children.

"It just goes to show how important it is to have positive disabled role models on CBeebies and television in general."

Read more on this story and the reaction from Cerrie's former Jack Taylor colleagues in this week's Ham&High

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