Parents: Know your Child’s Legal Rights at School
The chances are that if your child has any kind of mental or physical disability, they will encounter some difficulty in school at some point. They will either require special treatment, concessions, or extra resources to allow them to benefit from the full range of educational activities the school provides. The Equality Act 2010 (EQA) is designed to make sure this happens. We recommend all parents to have a solid understanding about this law and how it can help your child.
Know the Equality Act 2010
Know that your child is protected by the Equality Act (2010). This law is designed to ensure that individuals with a disability are not discriminated against. It ensures that children with a disability are treated equally and have full access to the same opportunities as neuro-typical children.
Your Child is Protected By It If…
Your child is protected by the Equality Act if his or her disability is recognised as a statutory disability as described by Section 6. Check here to see if your child‘s condition is covered. A working definition of disability is a “physical or mental impairment which has substantial long term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out day-to-day activities”. Your child doesn’t necessarily need be diagnosed with any condition for this to apply.
Understanding “Reasonable Adjustments”
The key concept of this law is “Reasonable Adjustments”. The law demands that all schools, both state schools and independent schools, make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your child’s disability. This means removing barriers to education and inclusion OR provide auxiliary resources like computers, hearing loops, lifts etc. For example, if your child requires a wheelchair, the school must make reasonable attempts to make all areas of the school accessible so he or she can attend all classes and partake in all activities. Another example is if a child on the autism spectrum needs special attention on a school trip. If this requires a carer or qualified school staff to accompany the child, this must be attempted using the full resources available to the school. If your child is dyslexic, the school must make reasonable attempts to find resources like computers to assist in their learning.
Know What Exactly the Equality Act 2010 Outlaws
SEND is the legal body that arbitrates disputes concerning the Equalities Act. The EQA 2010 outlaws the below mistreatments. You can look them up here for more information. You can appeal to The Special Educational Needs Tribunal (SEND) if your child experiences any of the following:
- Failure to make reasonable adjustments (S20)
- Direct discrimination (S13)
- Indirect Discrimination (S19)
- Discrimination rising from disability (S15)
- Harassment (S26)
- Victimisation (S27)
What the SEND Tribunal Can Do
For more information about appealing to the authorities in case of discrimination, click here. If you appeal to the SEND Tribunal and win, they can:
- Mandate training for School staff
- Draw up new guidance
- Change school policy
- Provide extra tuition
- Change location of lessons
- Admission to independent school if previously refused on grounds relating to the disability
- Obtain written apologies
- Organise trips your child was excluded from
- Reinstate children following expulsion
The ins and outs of the Equality Act take a long time to understand and are too wide ranging to deal with adequately in just one blog post. I recommend all parents to take advantage of the below resources:
If you have any advice regarding the Equalities Act that can help parents with non-neuro typical children, please let me know and I can share them.