The Equality Act 2010 replaced all previous equality legislation such as the Race Relations Act, Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and Sex Discrimination Act.
The Equality Act 2010 provides a single, consolidated source of discrimination law, covering all the types of discrimination that are unlawful. It simplifies the law by removing anomalies and inconsistencies that had developed over time in the existing legislation, and it extends the protection from discrimination in certain areas.
The law on disability discrimination is different from the rest of the Act in a number of ways. The overriding principle of equalities legislation is generally one of equal treatment. However, the provisions in relation to disability are different in that you may, and often must, treat a disabled person more favourably than a non-disabled person.
There are some minor differences around disability in the new Act when compared with the previous legislation.
• The Equality Act does not list the types of day to day activities which a disabled person must be unable to carry out to meet the definition
• Failure to make a reasonable adjustment can no longer be justified. The fact that it must be ‘reasonable’ provides the necessary test.
• Direct discrimination against a disabled person can no longer be justified (bringing it into line with the definition of direct discrimination generally).
• From September 2012 schools and local authorities are under a duty to supply auxiliary aids and services as reasonable adjustments where these are not being supplied through a statement of SEND.
As in previous legislation a school must not discriminate against a pupil because of something that is a consequence of their disability.
It is unlawful for a school to treat a disabled pupil unfavourably. Such treatment could amount to:
• Direct discrimination
• Indirect discrimination
• Discrimination arising from a disability
Direct discrimination can never be justified but a school could justify indirect discrimination against a disabled pupil, and discrimination arising from a disability if the discrimination is the result of action that is a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’.
2. DEFINITION OF DISABILITY
Equality Act 2010: a person has a disability if:
• they have a physical or mental impairment;
• the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their 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 Act.
Progressive conditions considered to be a disability
There are additional provisions relating to people with progressive conditions. People with HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis are protected by the Act from the point of diagnosis. People with some visual impairment are automatically deemed to be disabled.
Conditions that are specifically excluded
Some conditions are specifically excluded from being covered by the disability definition, such as a tendency to set fires or addictions to non–prescribed substances.
It should be noted that this definition is not just regarding physical difficulties but also covers a wide range of:
• Sensory difficulties
• Learning difficulties
• Impairment resulting from, or consisting of, a mental illness
In addition there is a range of ‘hidden impairments’ such as
• Speech and Language Impairments
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Impairment does not itself mean that a pupil is disabled but rather it is the effect on the pupil’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities in one or more of the following areas that has to be considered:
• Manual dexterity
• Physical coordination
• Ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects
• Speech, hearing or eyesight
• Memory or ability to concentrate, learn or understand
• Perception of risk of physical danger
3. REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS
We have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils:
• When something we do places a disabled pupil at a substantial disadvantage to other pupils, we must take reasonable steps to avoid that disadvantage;
• We will be expected to provide an auxiliary aid or service for a disabled pupil when it would be reasonable to do so, and where such an aid would alleviate any substantial disadvantage the pupil faces in comparison to his non-disabled peers.
A failure to make a reasonable adjustment can no longer be justified. The test is whether the adjustment is reasonable, and if it is then there can be no justification for why it is not made. We will not be expected to make adjustments that are not reasonable.
There is as yet no clarity on what may be ‘reasonable’ although the Code of Practice will include factors that should be taken into account. It will be for us to decide the reasonableness of adjustments based on the individual circumstances of each case. Factors to consider may include the financial or other resources available, the effectiveness of the adjustment, its effect on other pupils, health and safety requirements, and whether aids have been made available through the SEND route.
The reasonable adjustments duty is intended to complement the accessibility planning duties, and the existing SEND statement provisions, under which Local Authorities have to provide auxiliary aids and services where a statement details that provision. When a disabled pupil does not have a statement of SEND (or the statement does not provide the necessary aid) then the duty to consider reasonable adjustments and provide such auxiliary aids will fall to the school.
As in the previous legislation we are not under a duty to make alterations to the physical environment though we should be planning to do so as part of our Accessibility planning.
4. AIMS OF THE ACCESSIBILITY PLAN
The planning duties on schools and Local Authorities are the same as the duties in the previous DDA. Schools are required to have an Accessibility Plan detailing how they will improve access to the physical environment, increase access to the curriculum for disabled pupils, and how they will improve the availability of accessible information to disabled pupils. The LA is required to have an Access Strategy.
In Storth School, we have a commitment to equal opportunities for all members of the school community and our Accessibility Plan outlines our intention to remove barriers for disabled pupils and to:
• increase the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the different areas of the national curriculum, increase access to extra-curricular activities and the wider school curriculum;
• improve the physical environment of schools to enable disabled pupils to take better advantage of education, benefits, facilities and services provided; and
• improve the availability of accessible information to disabled pupils.
Furthermore, under our equality duties, we intend to improve the physical environment of the school/setting to enable any disabled person (pupil, parent/carer, employees or visitor) to access facilities and services and improve the availability of accessible information to any disabled person.
This Accessibility Plan will, therefore, begin the process of addressing the needs of disabled people through specific targets.
It is a requirement that the school’s accessibility plan is resourced, implemented and reviewed and revised as necessary.
Compliance with the disability duty under the Equality Act is consistent with the school’s aims and Single Equality Scheme, and the operation of the school’s SEND policy.
The Action Plan for physical accessibility relates in part, to the Asset Management Plan (access section) of the School, which is undertaken regularly by the Local Authority. It may not be feasible to undertake some of the works during the life of this Accessibility Plan and therefore some items will roll forward into subsequent plans. The Plan will need to be revisited prior to the end of each first three-year plan period in order to inform the development of the new Plan for the following period.
We strive to ensure that the culture and ethos of the school are such that, whatever the abilities and needs of members of the school community, everyone is equally valued and treats one another with respect. Pupils should be provided with the opportunity to experience, understand and value diversity.
5. KEY OBJECTIVES
The key objectives of our Accessibility Plan are as follows:
• To reduce and eliminate barriers to access to the curriculum and to full participation in the school community for pupils, and prospective pupils, with a disability.
• We are committed to providing a fully accessible environment which values and includes all pupils, staff, parents and visitors regardless of their education, physical, sensory, social, spiritual, emotional and cultural needs. We are committed to challenging negative attitudes about disability and accessibility and to developing a culture of awareness, tolerance and inclusion.
• We are committed to providing all pupils with a broad and balanced curriculum, differentiated and adjusted to meet the needs of individual pupils and their preferred learning styles; and we endorse the key principles in the National Curriculum Framework (Click here to access) which underpin the development of a more inclusive curriculum:
– setting suitable learning challenges;
– responding to a pupil’s diverse learning needs;
– overcoming potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils.
6. CONTEXTUAL INFORMATION
• The school is a small school but the roll is stable with the Nursery now feeding the Reception. It is expected that the roll will increase as there are three small year groups still to pass through Year 6. We have 14 new starters this term (9 in Reception and 4 in other year groups) with 13 leaving KS2 last term. Nursery currently stands at 5, but we have 4 to start soon and others waiting. There are currently 6 children in Year 6, so the school will be in a positive position at the end of the year.
• The NOR is currently 57 – 61 at the start of the Spring term 2019.
• The school was judged Outstanding in its most recent SIAMS inspection on 17 November 2016.
• There is 1 child with FSM, very low ethnicity, low deprivation and no EAL.
• There are 2 children with an EHCP totalling 58 hours of support, with the usual shortfall of funding from County. School covers this using existing TA cover to plug the gaps in funding. 7 children are on the SEND register.
• The school has gone through a Voluntary Redundancy in the last year as a result of the poor budget management.
• Classes have been merged to ease the demands of a mixed Key Stage class. We have three classes – Nursery/Reception (15 children); Year 1/2 (16 children); Year 3/4/5/6 (29 children).
• There are three teaching staff, 2 HLTA, 3 1:1, 1 part time TA.
• Staffing has been reduced from 3.0 fte to 2.4 fte as a result of poor budget management and a large SEND demand. Currently there is 0.7 cover in Nursery/Reception; 0.7 cover in Y1/2 and full time cover in Y3/4/5/6. The PPA and shortfalls are covered using HLTA expertise.
• Attendance is good – 97.75%.
• KS2 data is based upon 13 children; KS1 on 4 children.
• KS2 results had been expected to be down on previous years due to an influx of 7 children into the year group.
• KS1 was very successfully moderated this year.
• The school had a very positive Diocesan monitoring visit which supported the SIAMS grading.
7.1 The Purpose and Direction of the School’s Plan: Vision and Values
• has high ambitions for its disabled pupils and expects them to participate and achieve in every aspect of school life;
• is committed to identifying and then removing barriers to disabled students in all aspects of school life;
• values the individual and the contribution they make to all aspects of school life;
• will strive to ensure that its disabled pupils have access to all areas of the curriculum and teaching resources so as to develop fully in their education;
• acknowledges a commitment to embrace the key requirements set out in the National Curriculum Inclusion Statement;
• will continue to focus on removing barriers in every area of the life of the school;
• is committed to embracing equal opportunities for all members of the school community.
7.2 Information from Pupil Data and School Audit
The school has identified that we have, as at the start of the academic year 2018/2019 3 students regarded as disabled under the terms of the DDA. These can be grouped as: hearing impaired No., physical mobility problems (non-wheelchair users) No., visual impairment No., Asperger’s Syndrome No., ADHD No., Autistic 2., epileptic No, Chromosome syndrome 1.
• Our annual development plan takes into account the needs of our diverse student population as well as the needs of its wider community.
• There are no students with a disability currently in feeder nursery/primary schools who may wish to come here have been identified through dialogue with the Local Authority agencies tasked with supporting those students in its area with disabilities.
In order to ensure that our data is up to date and accurate we will:
• liaise with the Local Authority so as to identify and therefore plan a response to students with a disability well before they arrive;
• improve the information dissemination from our Learning Support facility;
• implement a system that allows parents to inform us if they themselves have a disability;
• identify early on in their school career any obstacles to the effective learning of disabled students;
• use all available data to inform the planning of individual student learning patterns;
• use information supplied via previous LA Asset Management/Accessibility Audits to assist us to develop an action plan to reduce obstacles for the school community.
7.3 Views of those Consulted during the development of the Plan
• ensure the development of the plan involves coordination with the Local Authority in line with the LA Accessibility Strategy and ensure that we provide the best choices for students wanting to enrol here;
• consult the full governing body/SEND governor/relevant sub-committee;
• consult staff including specifically SENDCo;
• set up a structure to allow the views of students, both able and disabled to be taken into account;
• survey parents/carers to ascertain their views on our provision for disabled students and any developments they feel would be of use to the students and also offer parents alternative ways of answering the survey;
• involve outside agencies who already exist to assist disabled students in their education and future careers;
• ensure the views of ALL those consulted are taken into consideration and the plan modified where reasonable to meet the needs of stakeholders;
8. SCOPE OF THE PLAN
8.1 Increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the school curriculum
• to investigate how the access to those areas of the curriculum that are normally difficult for disabled students to access can be improved;
• to further investigate what support or alternative approaches can be adopted to increase the choice/participation of disabled students;
• to investigate alternative provision/routes and collaboration that will assist disabled students to learn including liaison with the LA Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Statementing and Provision Team.
We plan to increase access to the curriculum for pupils with a disability, expanding the curriculum as necessary to ensure that pupils with a disability are as, equally, prepared for life as are the able-bodied pupils. This covers teaching and learning and the wider curriculum of the school such as participation in after-school clubs, leisure and cultural activities or off-site visits. It also covers the provision of specialist aids and equipment, which may assist these pupils in accessing the curriculum. The school/setting will continue to seek and follow the advice of LA services, such as specialist teacher advisers and SEND inspectors/advisers, and of appropriate health professionals from the local NHS Trusts.
8.2 Improving the physical environment of the school to increase the extent to which disabled pupils can take advantage of education and associated services
• in consultation with the LA (where necessary and appropriate) investigate various improvements to the site;
• improve accessibility points to different curriculum areas;
• investigate ways of making the site more accessible to both disabled parents and adult users.
The school will take account of the needs of pupils and visitors with physical difficulties and sensory impairments when planning and undertaking future improvements and refurbishments of the site and premises, such as improved access, lighting, acoustic treatment and colour schemes, and more accessible facilities and fittings. This is required regardless of whether the school has pupils or visitors with disabilities and is preparation for a situation when they do.
The Governing body will want to consider and record reflection upon all areas of the physical environment such as:
• Changes to improve access to doors, stairs, toilet, changing facilities, and consideration of the impact of signs, colour schemes and colour contrast, lighting, heating etc.
• Changes outside of the school/setting building e.g. provision of disabled parking etc.
• Management and organisation issues such as maintenance of lights, fire alarms appropriate to those with hearing impairments etc.
• Increased access to and maintenance of, auxiliary aids, ICT apparatus such as computer hardware/software.
• Improvement to the acoustic environment that might include installation of soundfields/hearing loop systems.
• Improvements of storage implications for wheelchairs and other mobility devises.
• Application and progress on capital funding for major access works funded by the Schools Access Initiative through the Local Authority, and details on schools funds delegation to support targets such as provision of suitable floor coverings, furniture and layout of the playgrounds.
8.3 Improving the delivery to disabled pupils of information that is provided in writing for pupils who are disabled
We will strive to:
• produce all school/setting literature at the correct font size to help visually impaired students;
• investigate alternative ways of providing access to information, software and activities;
• investigate ways of communicating effectively with disabled parents and carers and other disabled adult users of the site.
The school plans to improve the delivery of written information to pupils, staff, parents and visitors with disabilities. Examples might include handouts, timetables, textbooks and information about the school and school events. The information should be made available in various preferred formats within a reasonable time frame. The school will make itself aware of local services, including those provided through the LA, for providing information in alternative formats when required or requested.
8.4 Financial Planning and Control
The Head teacher with Senior Management Team, together with the Finance Committee will review the financial implications of the School/Setting Accessibility Plan as part of the normal budget review process. The objective is that over time School/Setting Accessibility Plan actions will be integrated into the School/Setting Development Plan.
We will finance the plan by identifying costs and incorporating them into current and future budget commitments.
9.1 Management, Coordination and Implementation
Our Leadership Team will undertake a disability audit using a cross section of staff, pupils and parents (refer to Section 7.3).
As a result of the audit, we shall:
• produce action plans, with definite time scales for the implementation of the actions implicit in the plan;
• plans to provides workshops so staff can understand and buy into the Accessibility Plan and not see it as a bolt on;
• present the plan to the governing body for their approval;
• modify the plan based on the views of stakeholders;
• review the plan and the associated action plans to see if milestones are being met. This plan will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary every three years.
We recognise that monitoring is essential to ensure that pupils with disabilities are not being disadvantaged, and that monitoring leads to action planning.
Governors will be required to comment in their annual report to parents on the accessibility plan and identify any revisions as necessary. Evaluation that may be useful to judge success may include:
• success in meeting identified targets;
• changes in physical accessibility of school/setting buildings;
• questionnaires, responses from stakeholders e.g. parents, pupils and staff, indicate increased confidence in the school’s/setting’s ability to promote access to educational opportunities for pupils with disabilities;
• improved levels of confidence in staff in reducing the obstacles to success for pupils with additional needs;
• recorded evidence that increased numbers of pupils with disabilities are actively participating in all areas of the school/setting;
• recorded evidence that fewer pupils are being excluded from school/setting opportunities as their needs are being more effectively addressed through the application of strategies and procedures;
• increased levels of achievement for pupils with disabilities;
• pupil responses; verbally, pictorially and written that indicate that they feel themselves to be included;
• Ofsted inspections that identify higher levels of educational inclusion.
9.3 The role of the LA in increasing accessibility
Governors may wish to comment in their report to parents on the impact the LA has had upon supporting the school to achieve successful implementation of their accessibility plan (where relevant). This may include identifying how the LA has:
• provided training and awareness opportunities on issues regarding inclusion to staff, governors and parents and how this has been used in school to promote inclusion e.g. uptake of Dyslexia Friendly status, Inclusion Quality Mark, attendance on courses, use and adaptation of LA provided information, etc.;
• promoted collaboration through the provision of information aimed at sharing good practice;
• encouraged liaison between special and mainstream schools to share expertise and pupil placement;
• ensured that schools/settings are aware of support services that provide advice to schools/settings and staff;
• provided specialist help to identify ways forward in increasing the inclusion of all pupils;
• linked building adaptations to refurbishment and capital building works;
• informed schools/settings how information can be provided in a number of different formats.
9.4 Accessing the School’s Plan
• Plans could be made to investigate symbol software to support learners with reading difficulties.
• Raising awareness of font size and page layouts will support pupils with visual impairments.
• Auditing the school library to ensure the availability of large font and easy read texts will improve access.
• Auditing signage around the school/setting to ensure that is accessible to all is a valuable exercise.
• Auditing the use of, and methods of displaying materials around the school/setting.
This will be done through:
• presentation in a section on the school/setting website open to all visitors to the site;
• mention in the head teacher’s newsletter of the availability of the plan;
• open evening/parents’ forum with this as a theme.
We will ensure that the plan is available in different formats where requested.
The school/setting will achieve successful implementation of the accessibility plan with continued support in the areas of:
• providing training and awareness opportunities to staff, Governors and parents/carers on issues regarding equality and inclusion;
• providing targeted training for particular groups of pupils/staff;
• promoting collaboration through the provision of information and the sharing of good practice;
• encouraging liaison between other local schools including special schools;
• seeking support/advice from outside the school, from services, other agencies and organisations;
• ensuring that the school is aware of all support services that provide advice to schools and staff.
10. RELATED POLICIES
The Accessibility Plan should be read in conjunction with the following policies, strategies and documents:
• Curriculum Policies
• Single Equality Scheme/Objectives
• Staff Training and Development Plan
• Governor Training Plan
• Health & Safety Policy
• Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Policy, Local Offer Response & Information Report
• Off-Site Visits Procedures
• Whole School Behaviour Policy & procedures
• School Development Plan
• Asset Management Plan
• Complaints Procedures