A child or young person has special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) if they have a learning difficulty and/or a disability that means they need special health and education support.
Schools and education authorities have had a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils since 2002 (originally under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the DDA) and from October 2010, under the Equality Act 2010.
The reasonable adjustments duty for schools and education authorities now includes a duty to provide auxiliary aids and services for disabled pupils. The duty to provide auxiliary aids also applies in other contexts such as employment, service provision and further and higher education.
Schools must provide detailed information about their arrangements for the admission of disabled pupils to the school and publish an accessibility plan explaining adjustments they can make and ongoing plans to improve access.
They must also publish a SEN information report explaining how they identify and support children with Special Educational Needs and Disability. This can be found on the school’s website.
Nurseries, Schools and Colleges should be thinking in advance, and reviewing what adjustments they may need to make to avoid substantial disadvantage for disabled children.
- All aspects are covered, including homework, school trips, provision of education and around exclusions.
- They must make reasonable adjustments to procedures, criteria and practices and by the provision of auxiliary aids and services.
- Nurseries and post-16 providers must also make reasonable adjustments by making physical alterations.
- Schools and the local authority are not required to make physical alterations, but they must publish accessibility plans (and local authorities, accessibility strategies) setting out how they plan to increase access for disabled pupils to the curriculum, the physical environment and to information.
Examples of reasonable adjustments (not limited to)
- providing access to classroom materials through assistive technologies such as screen readers
- adapting the physical environment, for example installing ramps
- modifying the curriculum and assessments, for example allowing a student to answer assessments orally or use a computer
- presenting classroom materials in a different way such as visual, oral or demonstrations
- adapting teaching style, for example breaking lessons and/or activities into smaller sections so they are easier to understand
- reducing the distance between classes/classrooms for students who have physical disabilities
- giving extra time to move from class to class
- allowing more time to complete an exam or assessment, or giving the student rest breaks
- planning excursions in accessible locations, for example making sure the location is wheelchair accessible.