A disabled 11-year-old girl has been rejected by an academy school because she poses a “health and safety risk” to other children.

Idayah Miller, from Norbury, was told she could not go to the elite Harris Academy in Crystal Palace because her wheelchair would restrict the movement of other children in the crowded corridors.

In a letter to her parents, headteacher Steve Kenning also said the little girl would suffer low self-esteem because her “academic ability is quite low” and Harris is “a high pressure, high performing academy” where she would struggle to keep up with her friends.

Her father, Anthony, a consultant, has fought for his daughter to be educated in a mainstream school, winning a case against the local education authority who wanted to send her to a special school.

Mr Miller said: “Idayah is like an ordinary child, she is cheerful and quite witty. I do not see my daughter as disabled. Like any parent, I want the best for her in this life, I want her to have the same opportunities but no one is willing to help her.

“What this school is missing is the Helen Keller spirit. They should be reaching out to every student without any thought to their abilities.”

Schools campaigner Shasha Khan said: “There has always been a concern that some academies are operating quotas limiting numbers of children with Special Education Needs.

“Does this mean a disabled teacher who uses a wheelchair cannot apply for a job? What if an existing able-bodied pupil was suddenly wheelchair bound?

“One wonders if Harris Academy would have sent out such a letter if the applicant were a teenage Dr Stephen Hawking.”

Norbury Councillor Maggie Mansell said: “Surely this is illegal. It is totally unacceptable to bar someone on the grounds of their disability.

“She should be admitted and the school should carry out a risk assessment once she is in.”

Mr Kenning, whose school’s motto is All Can Achieve, said it would cost the school £7m to widen its 1950s corridors.

He said: “She takes up a lot of space, she won’t be able to get out of the building if there is a fire. We take students of all abilities here so that is not an issue, we are just concerned about her safety.

“We are saying to the parents, do you really want your child to be a safety risk to others?”

But the academy’s own prospectus claims it is an inclusive school with disabled access ramps and wheelchair facilities.

It said: “Disabled students, including those in wheelchairs, have full access to the curriculum.”

Mr Miller has appealed against Harris’s decision not to accept his daughter. His case will be heard by an independent panel at the beginning of December.

Mr Kenning said: “If it is decided by the panel we should take her then we will take her.”