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Advice on Disability Discrimination in London Schools
The Equality Act 2010 provides that schools must not discriminate against students on the grounds of their disability, either directly or indirectly. Schools are also required, in some situations, to make sure disabled students are given equal access to education and all the other services enjoyed by able bodied students.
What are the Responsibilities Owed to Disabled Pupils by London Schools?
The Disability Discrimination Act was replaced by the Equality Act 2010. The Act dictates that any barriers faced by disabled pupils must be removed so that there is no difference between the way in which they are able to take part in education in comparison to able bodied pupils.
Schools may be required to make certain adaptations to improve accessibility; they may have to provide additional learning aids or perhaps amend practices or rules. This is known as a ‘duty to make reasonable adjustments’ and it is only applicable to children who have a disability as defined by the Equality Act. For schools this will also cover school attendance; exclusions and admissions; access to school trips and extra-curricular activities and assistance and support with learning.
If at school in London your child is being disadvantaged because of a particular practice or rule and this is down to their disability or a lack of resources to assist with their education, then in line with the Equality Act the school has a duty to make adaptations if it is reasonable to do so.
So as to avoid being accused of disability discrimination, schools in London and nationwide are required to consider in advance any steps required to make sure all disabled students are provided with equal access to education as well as any other services, facilities or activities that other students enjoy. Parents in London are advised that no charges must ever be made to them for adaptations because the school is liable for the costs.
My Child is Being Discriminated Against at his London School. What can I do?
When it has been alleged that a child is experiencing disability discrimination, schools London wide and of course across England could face action under the Equality Act.
The first step is to make a complaint to the school. If this doesn’t have the desired effect then the next step is to take the matter to the Special Education Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Firstly, check the time limits for your claim. Talk to a London education law solicitor who will be able to guide you through the steps and will advise you that you have 6 months starting from the date the discriminatory act took place to lodge your case. The time limits are very important: miss them and your case could be struck out before it even begins.
Before you start proceedings, you must be fairly certain that discrimination has taken place according to the provision of the Equality Act for schools. If you are unsure as to what constitutes unfair treatment then make sure you are being advised by a specialist solicitor with specific experience in disability discrimination claims.
You should also be clear in your mind as to what you wish to achieve. Some parents in London are simply seeking an apology for the distress caused to their child. Others are looking for financial compensation, and some want to see changes made to put an end to discrimination in that particular school, along with improvements to school policy and training on the matter.
The Equality Act 2010: What it Means for London Schools
Nine major Acts of Parliament, various sets of regulations and the Disability Discrimination Act in schools were all replaced by the Equality Act 2010 in order to consolidate everything into one single piece of legislation.
The Act sets out all forms of discrimination in schools that are unlawful and applies to academies, free schools and all independent and state run schools. Under the Act, everything a school does concerning pupils, prospective pupils, parents and guardians, staff and the community must be fair and must never put anyone at a disadvantage due to their ‘protected characteristics’, which include disability.
Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is also a part of the Equality Act 2010 and as of 2011, schools became bound by its duties. There is a general duty under which schools are required to consider how their practices, policies and daily activities impact upon staff and pupils. There are also specific duties and these involve the annual publishing of information about how the school is fulfilling the PSED, and the four-yearly publishing of one or more measurable equality goals.
How can I Make a Disability Discrimination Claim Against my Child’s London School?
In line with the Equality Act for primary schools and secondary schools in England, parents of children in London schools are able to challenge the actions of the school via an independent Tribunal known as the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST). Any appeal must be lodged within 6 months of the act of discrimination taking place.
SENDIST is an independent body. After reviewing the evidence, a formal hearing will be held to talk through the claims you have made about the breach of the Equality Act 2010 by the school. SENDIST cannot award financial compensation, but it can order that the school issue a formal written apology or force it to amend its policy if it finds that it was in contravention of the Act. It can also order the school to arrange training for staff.
How can HCB Solicitors Assist with my Disability Discrimination Claim?
If you are of the opinion that your child has been the victim of a disability discrimination act in a school in London, HCB Solicitors can provide the advice and guidance you need to make a claim. We will start by ascertaining whether there are grounds for a complaint and take things upwards from there, all the way supporting you courtesy of our extensive experience in this particular field of education law. Our London education solicitors are well respected for their exceptional track record in achieving the best possible outcome for parents and their children who are of course entitled to the same level of education as anyone else.
For the advice you need on a tailored, confidential basis, get in touch today.