University of Edinburgh

Special Education & Disability Act and SI Education

Presented on Tuesday, 12 March 2002

Summary Points: Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 Draft Schools Code

Link between SEN framework and DDA

SEN framework makes special educational provision (additional provision) to meet individual pupil's special educational needs.

Disability discrimination framework will provide protection for pupils with disabilities by preventing discrimination against them at school on grounds of disability.

Duty not to discriminate owed by Education Authority or other responsible body in:

  • Admissions
  • Education and associated services
  • Exclusions

Duty not to treat less favourable:

  • For reason relating to disability
  • without justification (comparison with other pupils, need to show 'detriment')
  • justification, eg: permitted forms of selection; material and substantial reasons given by RB; cannot be justified if 'reasonable adjustments' could be made...

Reasonable adjustments

  • Admissions, eg: providing test in Braille
  • School trips, eg: ensuring appropriate transport and accommodation

NB auxiliary aids and services, and physical alterations to schools are not required under this duty; physical access to schools is a devolved issue and is being addressed in Scottish legislation being currently developed.

Duty to take reasonable steps to avoid substantial disadvantage

  • Anticipatory duty (planning ahead for all disabled people). Aids and services exemption (but if they are available, non-access to them would be a source of discrimination)
  • Alterations to premises exemption (does not include ramps, etc, but will include schools' policies, practices and the way services are provided will be covered by duty to take reasonable steps, eg: length of school day in special schools).

Conciliation (rights of redress)

  • Will be provided by DRC from September 2002
  • Not compulsory
  • confidential
  • quicker, cheaper and more flexible than court action

Court action

  • Sheriff Court
  • Time limit 6 months (8 months with conciliation)
  • Exclusion/placing requests/SEN appeals remain and are unaffected
  • Last resort
  • Court action - main remedies available:
    Declarator (declaration as to whether discrimination has taken place)
    Specific implement (RB to take a particular step to comply)
    No compensation (but cf Human Rights)

Actions to be taken by Education Authorities and other responsible bodies in preparation: see DRC Seminar 14 September 2001

Marianna Buultjens