The Equality Act 2010 sets out a number of ways in which a pupil may be discriminated against because of disability:

  • Unfavourable treatment arising from disability: when a school treats a pupil badly because of something connected to their disability, such as not allowing their assistance dog into the school or penalising them for needing time off for medical appointments, and the school does not have a good reason for doing so. 
  • Direct discrimination: when the school treats the pupil worse than a non-disabled pupil in a similar situation because of their disability. 
  • Indirect discrimination: where a school has a particular policy or way of working that has a worse impact on disabled people compared to people who are not disabled. This is unlawful unless the organisation or employer is able to show that there is a good reason for the policy and it is proportionate. 
  • Failure to make a reasonable adjustment: schools should make reasonable adjustments to accommodate pupils with disabilities. What is reasonable depends on the facts – the Equality and Human Rights Commission have published guidance on reasonable adjustments in schools which can help you work this out. 
  • Harassment: When the pupil is treated by a staff member in a way that makes them feel humiliated, offended or degraded. 
  • Victimisation: When the pupil is treated badly because they or their parents have made a complaint of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

There is more information about each type of disability discrimination on the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s website.

Before taking action, review our section on things to consider before making a claim.