It is very important that schools that discriminate against pupils with disabilities are held to account for their actions.

The first step would usually be to try to resolve the issue with the school directly. To do this, you could make a formal complaint using the school’s own complaints procedure. In your complaint, you should explain what type of disability discrimination you believe has taken place, and what action you think the school should take to remedy it.

If the complaint does not resolve matters, you could choose to escalate the complaint to the Department for Education and Ofsted, or you could decide to bring a claim to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (the SEND Tribunal).

If you think you will want to make a claim to the SEND Tribunal you need to make sure you meet the deadline and sometimes there may not be time to follow the school’s complaints procedure first. That’s ok, what’s important is getting your claim to the SEND Tribunal in time.

However, it is worth considering whether a disability discrimination claim is the best path of action in your individual circumstances.

Discrimination claims are ‘backward looking’, because they focus on a past event of discrimination rather than looking forward to what support is needed. While the SEND Tribunal can order reasonable adjustments to be made, if what you really want is for better support to be put in place for the child or young person, you might be better off considering what the school should be doing to help, making an application for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, or trying to get your EHC plan changed so that it provides for more or better support.

A discrimination claim is likely to have a negative impact on your relationship with the school.

However, you may think it is important to bring the claim for a number of reasons:

  • If your child has been excluded, so that they can be re-admitted to the school
  • So that the school are held to account
  • So that they will not discriminate against any other children
  • If it is a group of schools or a chain of Academies, the claim will be against the whole group, meaning your claim could have a wider impact

If you decide to make a claim to the SEND Tribunal, click here to find out about the procedure for bringing a disability discrimination claim.