It’s against the law for a school or other education provider to treat disabled students unfavourably. This includes:
- direct discrimination, for example refusing admission to a student or excluding them because of disability
- indirect discrimination, for example only providing application forms in one format that may not be accessible
- discrimination arising from a disability, for example a disabled pupil is prevented from going outside at break time because it takes too long to get there
- harassment, for example a teacher shouts at a disabled student for not paying attention when the student’s disability stops them from easily concentrating
- victimisation, for example suspending a disabled student because they’ve complained about harassment
An education provider has a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make sure disabled students are not discriminated against. These changes could include providing extra support and aids (like specialist teachers or equipment).
Schools are not subject to the reasonable adjustment duty to make alterations to physical features, like adding ramps. They must make the buildings accessible for their disabled pupils as part of their overall planning duties.
Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
All publicly funded pre-schools, nurseries, state schools and local authorities must try to identify and help assess children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
If a child has an an education, health and care (EHC) plan or a statement of special educational needs, these must be reviewed annually. From year 9 the child will get a full review to understand what support they will need to prepare them for adulthood.
All universities and higher education colleges should have a person in charge of disability issues that you can talk to about the support they offer.
You can also ask local social services for an assessment to help with your day-to-day living needs.