Disability discrimination

Complying with disability legislation can be a complex task for school managers. Talk to our experts who can guide you through what you need to do and help you avoid tricky legal pitfalls.

Federico Baglioni, Bishop's Stortford
Federico Baglioni. paralegal within dispute resolution and litigation in Bishops Stortford

Discrimination by schools against pupils due to a disability, either directly or indirectly, is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010. Schools have an obligation to make sure pupils with a disability have the same access to education and school facilities as their peers. 

The Act covers a broad range of school life including:

  • the lessons themselves 
  • learning materials and equipment
  • extra-curricular activities
  • school trips off-site
  • sports activities
  • homework clubs
  • behaviour policies
  • assessment processes
  • admissions
  • exclusions

What responsibilities does a school have towards a disabled child?

As part of ensuring a child with a disability has equal access to the education activities, the Equality Act states that reasonable adjustments must be made. This means the school may need to make a range of changes such as: 

  • adjustments to the physical environment to enable access
  • change the rules about what must or must not be done during the activity
  • provide additional help when it is needed.

Such adjustments as are needed, are to be funded by the school, and not by the parents.

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You’ll find our team of education lawyers friendly and easy to talk to and we understand the ins-and-outs of education law. 

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Disability discrimination – frequently asked questions

What type of discrimination can happen at school?
  • direct disability discrimination – for example, if a pupil is actively prevented from taking part in an activity because it is thought it is not suitable for them
  • indirect disability discrimination – if the system in effect discriminates by for example, making it harder for the person to adhere
  • discrimination arising from disability – for example, imposing a sanction on a child who broke a school rule as a direct result of their disability
  • a failure to make reasonable adjustments – for example, allowing a child to avoid noisy environments

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