How do I avoid discrimination in my School?
This is a question on every Headteacher’s mind. Discrimination arising from disability occurs when you treat a disabled pupil, a member of staff or a visitor unfavourably because of something connected with their disability.
Schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for particular individual disabled pupils, staff and visitors. Schools must also consider potential adjustments which may be needed, as it is likely that any school will have a disabled pupil, member of staff or visitor at some point.
A useful starting point when determining what a reasonable adjustment might be is to consider how to ensure that disabled pupils can be involved in every aspect of school life. Often effective and practical adjustments involve little or no cost or disruption.
Your first step to avoiding discrimination is to have an Access Audit – this is a legal requirement for all schools. The DfE states that all schools in the U.K. must implement accessibility plans which are aimed at:
increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the curriculum
improving the physical environment of schools to enable disabled pupils to take better advantage of education, benefits, facilities and services provided;
improving the availability of accessible information to disabled pupils and visitors.
By having an access audit and acting quickly to identify and put in place reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils, schools can often avoid discrimination arising from disability. If you fail to make an appropriate reasonable adjustment, it is likely to be very difficult for you to argue that unfavourable treatment is justified. The compensation culture era is sadly with us and there has been a massive increase in cases being brought against schools during the last 12 months.
EA Audits can advise you. By having an access audit and accessibility plan written by us, you will not only be given sound advice as to how to make your school more accessible, but you will also be improving the learning experience for any disabled pupils who come to your school. It is also worth noting that OFSTED inspections may include a school’s accessibility plan as part of their review.