‘Reasonable Adjustments’ in Schools

Reasonable adjustments are changes made to ensure disabled pupils can participate in their education and enjoy the other facilities that the school provides. Schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to avoid putting a disabled pupil at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled pupils.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments in schools:

Example – A disabled pupil has an EHC plan and attends a maintained mainstream secondary school. Through her EHC plan, she receives two hours a week of specialist teaching and uses an electronic notetaker in lessons. Because the support that she requires is provided through her EHC plan, the school does not therefore have to make reasonable adjustments by providing these auxiliary aids and services for her.

In other cases, a disabled pupil may need reasonable adjustments to be made in addition to the special educational provision that he or she is receiving.

Example — An infant school disabled pupil with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) receives some individual teaching assistant support through the SEN framework. He is diagnosed with severe asthma and needs assistance with his nebuliser. Although this is not a special educational need, his asthma is likely to be a disability for the purpose of the Act and so a failure to provide a reasonable adjustment will place him at a substantial disadvantage. The school trains his teaching assistant and she provides him with the assistance that he needs. This would be a reasonable adjustment for the school to make.

Some disabled pupils are not classified as having SEN, but if they are disabled and are suffering a substantial disadvantage, they may still need reasonable adjustments to be made.

Example – A disabled pupil has an EHC plan and attends a maintained mainstream secondary school. Through her EHC plan, she receives two hours a week of specialist teaching and uses an electronic notetaker in lessons. Because the support that she requires is provided through her EHC plan, the school does not therefore have to make reasonable adjustments by providing these auxiliary aids and services for her.

Example – A disabled pupil at an infant school has diabetes, and requires daily support with reading blood sugar levels and insulin injections. He is not classified as having SEN and therefore receives no support through the SEN framework. He is, however, disabled and therefore, if the lack of daily support places him at a substantial disadvantage, the school would be under a duty to make the adjustment of providing the support, if it would be reasonable to do so.