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Accessibility Strategies and Plans
Section 14 of SENDA 2001 places a duty upon LAs and schools to plan over time to:
· Increase the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the curriculum;
· Improve the physical environment of the school;
· Improve the accessibility of information that is provided in writing to non-disabled pupils.
The duty is described as an accessibility strategy for LAs and an accessibility plan for schools. Strategies and plans must be in writing, kept under review and revised where necessary. The performance of the LA and schools will be included in the normal OFSTED inspections. Maintained schools must include their accessibility plan in the school prospectus.
Section 15 of the Act describes the procedure for preparing accessibility strategies and plans. The DfES has now issued guidance on the content and form of the strategy, the consultative arrangements and review processes. The procedure also requires LAs and schools to have regard to available resources when developing the strategies or plans.
The planning duty came into force from September 2002 and LAs and schools should have produced strategies and plans by April 2003.
(a) Physical Environment.
As the LA will be expected to take a strategic approach to planning for increased physical access to all maintained schools, it is essential to have access to good data about the accessibility of all schools. Where good data is not available LAs will be expected to obtain the relevant information in partnership with schools. LAs will also be expected to reflect access requirements in any capital building work. The guidance also makes it clear that schools should do what they can to make their physical environment more accessible within their available resources.
(b) Access to the Curriculum.
At a strategic level access to the curriculum will focus upon how the LA intends to help schools, including through providing opportunities for staff training or promoting good practice. For schools the plans will consider issues relating to teaching and learning, including classroom organisation and support. The guidance does not specify the ways in which LAs might support schools in developing the planning framework.
(c) Access to Information.
The third strand relates to the provision of information. LAs and schools will have a duty to improve the delivery to disabled pupils of information that is already provided to pupils who are not disabled. The implication here is that disabled pupils are not always fully able to access written information in particular and that schools and the LA will need to provide information in alternative formats.
To view a template for an accessibility plan click HERE
To view Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act click HERE
To view the Special Educational Needs duties in the Education Act 1996 click HERE