This information is for parents when a School refuses to take children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and/or an EHCP on a School trip.
The Code of Practice states:
6.2 Every school is required to identify and address the SEN of the pupils that they support. Mainstream schools, which in this chapter includes maintained schools and academies that are not special schools, maintained nursery schools, 16 to19 academies, alternative provision academies and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), must:
• use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN
• ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
• designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision – the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO (this does not apply to 16 to 19 academies)
• inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
• prepare an SEN information report (see ‘Publishing information: SEN information report’, paragraph 6.78 onwards) and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time.
The Equality Act 2010
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for schools and local authorities (LA) to discriminate against disabled pupils. The Act includes duties to make sure disabled pupils are not treated less favourably than other pupils. Schools have to make reasonable adjustments where they are needed. Schools generally have to make sure that disabled pupils can play as full a part in school life as possible which includes going on school trips.
A school’s duty to make reasonable adjustments is an anticipatory one. This means because in most cases disabled pupils will be known to the school or LA the need to arrange suitable support should be part of the longer-term planning for the pupil.
Where a School states that they are unable to include a disabled pupil on a trip, you as parents can make it clear that this is discrimination. The Act does not require a school to cancel a trip (or any other activities) but the Act does require a school to look at all the ways in which they can ensure that all pupils are given the same opportunities to participate.
Schools should work with yourselves as parents to learn what experiences you have had with regard to going on trips, e.g., strategies the school could use. Schools should also learn from other schools in these situations to come up with solutions that means that everyone is able to benefit from a trip or an activity.
Reasonable adjustments may include thinking about alternative trips to the ones previously arranged by the school, providing additional assistance, such as asking a learning assistant who supports the child in school to go with the child on the visit to enable the pupil to attend.
As parents you could offer to attend the trip if you are able, to be an extra person in ratios.
The Act does not override health and safety legislation. Schools may still need to undertake risk assessments to ensure all pupils attending the trip are safe.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission have produced guidance for schools detailing the duties of schools under the Act and there is guidance about reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils.