Inclusion ( SEN )

Skip to main content
29th September 20

Disability Discrimination

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001


Part 2 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 amended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to prohibit all schools from discriminating against disabled children in their:


·         admissions arrangements, in the education and associated services;

·         pupil exclusions from the school.


The ‘reasonable adjustments’ duty on schools does not require the provision of auxiliary aids and services or the removal or alteration of physical features. Decisions about the provision of educational aids and services for children with SEN will continue to be taken within the SEN framework.


From September 2002, schools were required not to treat disabled pupils less favourably for a reason relating to their disability and to take reasonable steps to ensure that they are not placed at a substantial disadvantage to those who are not disabled. A Disability Rights Code of Practice for schools, at that time prepared by the Disability Rights Commission, explained these new anti-discrimination duties to schools.


The SEN and Disability Discrimination Act (SENDA), 2001, placed new duties on schools. They now have a duty not to discriminate against a disabled pupil by treating them less favourably on grounds of their disability. Schools are also required to make reasonable adjustments to all aspects of school life, including policies, practices and procedures, so that disabled pupils are not placed at a substantial disadvantage. Governing bodies of all schools must draw up an ‘Accessibility Plan’ to show how they intend to increase the extent to which disabled pupils take part in the curriculum, and improve the physical environment to increase disabled pupils’ participation.


Educational Visits.

Lancashire has produced a document – Educational Visits: Policy and Guidelines for Schools and Youth and Community Service.  Appendix 18 offers valuable advice in relation to Disability Discrimination.


To see Appendix 18 of Lancashire's advice click HERE.



The Disability Rights Commission


The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) closed on 28 September 2007. Its responsibility for helping secure civil rights for disabled people has transferred to the new Equality and Human Rights Commission which opened for business on 1st October 2007.


To visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission click HERE



Disability Discrimination - Terminology.


From the beginning of September 2002, it has been illegal for schools to discriminate against disabled pupils in admissions, exclusions or associated services. The following guidance of terminology and procedures is offered to help schools to respond to the new statutory requirements.


Disability -The definition used where a pupil has physical and mental difficulties, which have a substantial and long-term effect on the child’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This is not necessarily the same as ‘special educational needs’. A child with a disability does not automatically have special educational needs, and a child with SEN is not automatically disabled.


Discrimination - Occurs when a child is treated less favourably than someone with a disability, for a reason related to that disability, and this cannot be justified.


Admissions Issues - Those responsible for admissions to a school must not discriminate against disabled children in deciding who can get into the school; in any terms they attach to offers of a placer by refusing/deliberately not accepting an application for admission.


Exclusions - Responsible bodies must not discriminate against disabled pupils by excluding them, either permanently or on a fixed-term basis, for a reason connected with their disability.


Associated Services - Covers allegations of discrimination in a wide range of activities, including classroom organisation, access to school facilities, breaks and lunchtimes, assessment and exam arrangements, and school trips.


Responsible Body - The body responsible for the school or for the activity in question. Generally, the governing body of a maintained school will be responsible for responding to discrimination claims. In the case of maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units, it will be the LEA. However, there may be certain aspects of school life, for example home to school transport, where it would be the LEA and not the governing body of a maintained school which would have to answer the charge.



Claims Procedures

Discrimination claims about admission to maintained schools, including voluntary schools, will be heard by the Authority’s admission appeals panel. Claims about permanent exclusions from maintained schools will be heard by the local independent appeals panel for exclusions. Disability discrimination claims relating to fixed term exclusions and education services are now heard by the independent First–tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability).



First–tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability)

From 3rd November the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal ceased to exist as a stand-alone body and became part of a new two-tier Tribunal structure; the First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal. The two new Tribunals consist of chambers that group together jurisdictions dealing with similar work or requiring similar skills.


The existing judges and non-legal members of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal all transferred into the new two-tier system and continue their vital work in much the same way as they did before. Special Educational Needs and Disability now sits in the Health, Education and Social Care (HESC) Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal. Appeals against the panel's decisions now go to the Upper Tribunal instead of to the High Court.


Parents whose children have special educational needs can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) against decisions made by Local Education Authorities in England about their children's education.


To visit the home page for the First Tier Tribunal click HERE


The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Disability Equality Duty

This Act introduced new duties for most public bodies to:


·                                 promote disability equality

·                                 take steps to eliminate discrimination and harassment

·                                 publish a Disability Equality Scheme, setting out how they plan to do so


The aim is to influence the way public bodies – including education providers - make decisions and develop their policies, encouraging them to consider the needs of disabled people as part of their everyday activities.


To access Lancashire's Disability Equality Scheme Guidance for Schools click HERE

 Additional Links.

For further advice on:

  • Disability Discrimination duties in Part 4 of the DDA, click HERE
  • Disability and the DDA, click HERE