A child or young person is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 (section 6) if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This is actually a low test to meet as “substantial” means more than minor or trivial and “long term” means lasting more than one year or likely to last more than one year.
Not all children or young people with special educational needs will be disabled and not all disabled children or young people will have special educational needs. The vast majority however – over 87% in IPSEA’s estimation – will fall under both legal definitions.
Early years settings, schools, colleges and Local Authorities have clear legal duties to act to prevent unlawful discrimination, whether directly or indirectly. They must ensure that they do not treat children and young people with disabilities less favourably than others. They also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments – to change what they do or were proposing to do - to ensure a child or young person is not disadvantaged. This includes the provision of aids and services to support a child or young person.
A claim of disability discrimination against a school of any type (whether state funded or independent) can be made to the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Tribunal. A claim against a Further Education College or Local Authority is brought in the County Court.
Our Tribunal Helpline Gives next step advice on SEN appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. When you call we will also assess whether you need casework support. Please click here to book an appointment to get one of our advisers to call you back.