Draft revised strategy for consultation 2012
- Background and Legislative Framework
- Vision and Values
- Definition of Disability
- The Role of Schools and Governing Bodies
- History and current position:
- Inclusive Resource Bases and Outreach Services
- Accessibility Guides to Schools and Academies
- Access to the Curriculum – Aims
- Access to the Physical Environment – Aims
- Access to Written Information – Aims
Thurrock Council is committed to improving access for all pupils and young people, but particularly for those with a disability, ensuring equality of opportunity.
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the SEN Disability and Discrimination Act 2001, placed a requirement upon Local Authorities, to have an accessibility strategy. The Equality Act 2010 (Section 88 Schedule 10) sets out the responsibility of all Local Authorities responsible for schools to create, amend and keep up to date an Accessibility Strategy.
This strategy seeks to improve the access for disabled children and young people to Thurrock schools and academies, and to increase the opportunity for them to take advantage of the education and associated services provided by schools, academies and early years settings.
The strategy will link with other strategic planning processes and initiatives such as The Children and Young People’s Plan 2012-13. It will also take into account the legislative changes arising from the reform of provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs set out in the draft legislation on Reform of Provision for children and young people with special educational needs (Crown 2012). The Strategy will continue to be informed bya broad social theory of disability taking into account the complexity of issues such as a broader understanding of the nature and definition of disability.
The strategy emphasises the need for partnership working and collaboration between all agencies, to ensure pupils and young people with disabilities learn, play and develop alongside their peer group, in schools, which respond positively to a range of disabilities. There is a need to recognise and overcome potential barriers to learning by promoting participation and success for all by providing a broad and balanced differentiated curriculum in schools and Early Years settings and developing teaching skills.
The strategy covers the three areas required by the planning duties in the Disability Discrimination Act:
- Increase the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the curriculum
- Improve the physical environment of schools to increase the extent to which disabled pupils can take advantage of education and associated services
- Improve the delivery of information to disabled pupils which is provided in writing for pupils who are not disabled
2. BACKGROUND AND LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act came into effect in September 2001, and extended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, to cover every aspect of education.
The duties made it unlawful to discriminate against disabled pupils or prospective pupils, in all aspects of school life. Wherever possible, disabled pupils should have the same opportunities as non-disabled pupils, in their access to education.
There are three main sets of duties which combine to make a framework that underpins the equality of opportunity for disabled pupils to access education.
- The disability discrimination duties in Part 4 of the DDA – providing protection from discrimination.
- The planning duties in Part 4 of the DDA – providing for improvements to increase access over time.
- The Special Educational Needs (SEN) duties in the Education Act 1996 – providing auxiliary aids and services.
Under part 4 of the DDA, schools and local Authorities have collective duties towards disabled pupils:
- Not to treat disabled pupils less favourably.
- To take reasonable steps to avoid putting disabled pupils at a substantial disadvantage. This is known as the reasonable adjustment duty.
The planning duty came into force in September 2002 and required all Local Authorities and schools, to have their strategies and plans in place by April 2003.
It should be noted that proprietors of Academy Schools have the same requirements placed on them to have plans in place.
The above duties are now described in the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 (Section 88 Schedule 10) describes the accessibility strategy as below.
An accessibility strategy is a strategy for, over a prescribed period—
(a)increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the schools' curriculums;
(b)improving the physical environment of the schools for the purpose of increasing the extent to which disabled pupils are able to take advantage of education and benefits, facilities or services provided or offered by the schools;
(c)improving the delivery to disabled pupils of information which is readily accessible to pupils who are not disabled
3. VISION AND VALUES
Thurrock Council’s corporate aims and values are reflected in the Children and Young People’s Plan 2012-13.
Social and educational inclusion, and the commitment to raising pupil achievement, are themes which permeate through all Council policies and agendas.
Thurrock Council has a clear commitment to an inclusive approach to education through its development of mainstream resource bases, outreach services and local specialist placements alongside funding arrangements to support pupils with a wide range of needs in mainstream schools. The Council recognises that this inclusive process can only be achieved through close partnership working between parents, pupils, schools, Governors, Early Years settings, the Local Authority, Health, other agencies and the voluntary sector.
Local Authority personnel will continue to work with their partners to enhance the positive outcomes for children with disabilities by responding to diverse needs and increasing the opportunities for success.
4.DEFINITION OF DISABILITY
The Disability Act 2010 sets out the following definition of disability.
In the Act, a person has a disability if:
- they have a physical or mental impairment
- the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect ontheir ability to perform normal day-to-day activities
For the purposes of the Act, these words have the following meanings:
- 'substantial' means more than minor or trivial
- 'long-term' means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
- 'normal day-to-day activities' include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping
People who have had a disability in the past that meets this definition are also protected by the 2010 Act.
In the light of the above it is important that for the purposes of this strategy the definition of disability is also informed by the previous more detailed definition from the DDA 2005.
The definition of disability in the DDA 2005set out a broad definition of disability, stating that a person is disabled if they have;
‘A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term, adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day to day activities’
A physical impairment includes sensory impairment.
A mental impairment includes learning difficulties and an impairment resulting from or consisting of, a mental illness.
The definition can include a range of ‘hidden’ impairments such as dyslexia, autistic spectrum disorders, speech and language impairments and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
An impairment does not in itself mean that a pupil is disabled. It is the effect on his/her ability to undertake or carry out normal day to day activities that has to be considered.
A substantial adverse effect is something more than ‘minor’ or ‘trivial’
A long- term adverse effect is one which has lasted for more than twelve months or, the future effect, will be at least twelve months. This rules out conditions such as broken limbs, as the expectation is that the condition will resolve itself within a year.
Normal day to day activities are those carried out by most people on a fairly regular and frequent basis. The test of whether an impairment affects day to day activity is whether it affects mobility, physical co-ordination, manual dexterity, continence, speech, hearing, memory, ability to concentrate, ability to lift or otherwise move, everyday objects and perception of risk of physical danger.
People with progressive conditions that are likely to change and develop over time, are covered by the Act, when the condition leads to an impairment which affects their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.
However, genetic conditions that have no effect on the pupils’ ability to carry out day to day activities, are not covered unless the condition is progressive.
People with an impairment, who may be receiving medical or other treatment which alleviates or removes the effect but not the impairment, are considered to be disabled. In these cases, the treatment is ignored and the impairment is to be considered as it would be, without any medication or other treatment. For example, a pupil whose epilepsy is well controlled by medication has to be considered as he/she would be if he/she were not having regular treatment. However, the exception to this rule is the wearing of glasses or contact lenses. In this circumstance, the effect while the person is wearing glasses or contact lenses should be considered.
Not all pupils who are defined as disabled will necessarily have special educational needs. For example, those with severe asthma, arthritis or diabetes may not have special educational needs but may have rights under the DDA. Similarly, not all children with special educational needs will be defined as having a disability under the DDA.
The identification of pupils needs will also need to take into account the new legislative framework for Special Educational Needs including the development of Education, Health and Care Plans described in the draft legislation Provisions about children and young people in England with special educational needs (Crown 2012).
5. THE ROLE OF GOVERNING BODIES
The Equality Act 2010 introduced a single Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).The PSED applies to all maintained and independent schools, including academies.
The PSED, sometimes referred to as the ‘general duty’, extends schools’ equality duties to all protected characteristics:
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Gender reassignment
The three main elements of the duty
The duty came into effect in April 2011 and has three main elements. In carrying out their functions, public bodies are required to have due regard (see below for a definition of 'due regard')to the need to:
- Eliminate discrimination and other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
- Foster good relations across all characteristics, andbetween people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
All governing bodies irrespective of whether the school is an academy community, foundation or voluntary, have a duty to produce their own accessibility plan.
The Governing Body must explain the admission arrangements for disabled pupils at the school, how the governing body helps disabled pupils gain access and what it will do to ensure they are treated fairly. They should ensure funding arrangements are clear and sufficient. Governors are required to publish the school accessibility plan but this may be included within the School Profile.
The Governing Body should, in conjunction with the Head teacher, approve the accessibility plan and the approaches and provision for pupils with disabilities. The plan should be reviewed and adjusted on an annual basis.
Whilst each school will develop their accessibility at a different rate, it should be borne in mind that the requirements relate not just to pupils but to staff, parents/carers and visitors.
Part 4 of the DDA 1995, makes it unlawful for the Governing Body or Responsible Body, to discriminate against a disabled child:
- In relation to admissions
- In relation to education and associated services
- By excluding a pupil
Discrimination is either:
- Treating a disabled pupil or prospective pupil, less favourably, for a reason relating to his or her disability, than someone to whom that reason does not apply, without justification.
- Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that disabled pupils or prospective pupils are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with their non-disabled peers without justification. This is the reasonable adjustments duty.
There is also an ‘anticipatory’ duty on schools to plan in advance for pupils with disabilities, who may be admitted in the future. Therefore the accessibility plan should reflect the reasonable adjustments that may need to be made before a pupil with a disability, is presented for admission.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has provided further advice and guidance on the requirements of the Disability Act 2010 and this can be found on
Schools have a specific duty to publish information related to how they are meeting the PSED and details of the schools equality objectives however they are no longer required to publish Equality Schemes in relation to Disability. Whilst schools will seek the views of a range of people when drafting their plan, it would be particularly useful to include the views of any pupil (or their parent/carer) or staff member, who may have a disability.
6. HISTORY AND CURRENT SITUATION
Funding has been provided to Thurrock Schools initially through the Access Initiative Funds. A wide range of improvements have been funded through this scheme enabling significant improvements to the physical accessibility of school buildings. Since the changes to ring fenced access initiative funding in 2011/12 the local authority has continued to fund improvements to school buildings accessibility both in new builds and through allocation of school condition funding where access improvements have been identified.
The School Asset Management Plan informs the priorities for accessibility developments and funding allocation from School Condition funds. When carrying out capital building work the local authority will always consider how to best implement aids to physical accessibility into these works. Developments in physical accessibility of school or early years settings buildings are carried out in a way so as to maximise the opportunities for children and families with disability to access local resources.
MAINSTREAM RESOURCE BASES 2012/13
Stanford le Hope Designated Nursery 2 fte places
Chafford Hundred ICAN Speech and Language 10 pre-school places
Corringham Primary Speech and Language20 places
Harris Academy Secondary Speech, Language 20 places
Stanford le Hope Primary Visually Impaired 5 places
( includes 1 fte in the nursery )
St Clere’s Academy Secondary Visually Impaired6 places
Warren Primary Hearing Impaired14 places
( includes nursery places )
St Clere’s Academy Secondary Hearing Impaired12 places
Dilkes Primary Academy Primary base for BESD10 places
Ormiston Park Academy Secondary (ASCEND) BESD 15 places
Lansdowne Academy MLD / Communication Needs 8 places
Special schools in Thurrock provide a range of outreach services to support mainstream schools in meeting theneeds of children with disabilities. The services offered are as follows:
Beacon HillAcademy, Eriff Drive, SouthOckendonRM15 5AY Telephone 01708 852006
Principal : Richard Milligan
Assessment for Information Technology requirements to improve curriculum access
Assessment for equipment and play items for physically disabled pupils.
There is also an equipment loan service where schools can borrow equipment and play items to see whether the pupil would benefit.
Risk Assessment and advice on manual handling for pupils with physical difficulties.
TreetopsSchool, Buxton Road, Grays RM16 2XN Telephone 01375 372723
Head Teacher: Paul Smith
Advice and support for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Advice and support for secondary aged pupils with learning and/or communication difficulties
Whilst exclusions are perfectly legal and right in many circumstances, schools should be mindful of the ‘reasonable’ adjustment requirements and ensure pupils with disabilities, in the wider sense, are treated fairly and non-discriminately.
Failure to provide evidence of making ‘reasonable adjustments’ could lead to claims under the Disability Discrimination Act.
ACCESSIBILITY GUIDES TO SCHOOLS
Thurrock council has commissioned Disabled Go for the past three years to visit all schools and provide Access Guides on all ThurrockSchools and Good Practice Reports for each of the schools to inform their accessibility planning. Thurrock will continue to use this information to ensure that this support for accessibility planning is available.These reports are available on line at
7. ACCESS TO THE CURRICULUM
Thurrock will aim to:
- Continue to support the good links between mainstream and special schools, providing opportunities for sharing expertise and knowledge
- Continue to provide direct support for School and Academy Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators through the SENCO forum as a mechanism to share good practice and enhance skills of SENCO’s.
- Continue to support and provide the mandatory accredited training for SENCO’s
- Continue to support training to all schools from external agencies such as SENJIT, providing further advice on the commissioning of this support by academies on a range of curriculum and specialist topics
- Continue to support the funding of specialist training for teachers in our special schools and mainstream bases who wish to specialise in teaching pupils with visual, hearing impairment or communication disorders.
- Work with schools to monitor and promote the achievement of pupils who are disabled. This will include ongoing work on the support for pupils accessing the curriculum at P Levels
- Ensure all policies, advice and support to schools and academies reflects the requirements of the new legislation following the reform of the provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs .
- Provide fully accessible information on the range of services offered by Children Education and Families electronically and in line with Thurrock Councils commitment to level AA of W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) standards on website accessibility.
- Develop further the joint working and multi agency links with agencies including Health and the voluntary sector