Home > Disability Rights & Values > The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Special Educational Needs Act Disability

When the government published their Valuing People white paper in 2001, they clearly outlined their desire to protect and discourage discrimination against disabled, learning disabled and special needs people. It also wanted them to have the same life opportunities as other people, as well as achieving social inclusion within their community.

In line with these views, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 was created to help establish legal rights for disabled and special educational needs children in compulsory and post-16 education, training and other student services. It extended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and sought to eradicate unjustified discrimination against students and adult learners that are disabled, making such cases of discrimination unlawful. The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 fortified this move by ensuring that public authorities were given a duty to promote and reinforce equality for disabled people.

Brief Summary

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 legislated that it is against the law for goods, services and facility providers to discriminate against disabled people by treating them less favourably due to their disability. If someone is adamant that this sort of discrimination is justified, they would be required to show why such action should be regarded as reasonable. The DDA 1995 did not, however, extend as far as encompassing education providers. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 was created in order to tackle discrimination in this sphere and extend the DDA 1995.

Under the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, schools, colleges, universities, adult education providers, statutory youth services and local education authorities were required to make the same sort of reasonable adjustments for disabled people as stipulated in the DDA 1995. The aim of including these groups, organisations and bodies in the Act was to ensure that disabled people were offered the same opportunities and choices as those in mainstream society. It was also designed to make sure that where possible, disabled people have the right to be able to work at their fullest capacity and have the chance to fulfil their potential.

What Are Reasonable Adjustments?

In order for some disabled people to have access to an array of educational services, they may need special provisions made. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act requires that disabled people are not suffering significant disadvantages in balance with other non-disabled people.

The reasonable adjustments made vary from individual to individual – in some cases it may be extra equipment for a physically disabled person, or in the case of a learning disability, it may be a provision in the form of a member of specialist support staff, or changes to timetables, course requirements, or providing alternative teaching and learning materials.

The Act covers many areas of student services, from access and provision of learning resources, exams and assessments and arrangement of work placements. So to summarise, the Act basically describes reasonable adjustments as alterations to normal practices and procedures, alterations to physical features and the provision of extra support.

Exemptions

In some cases, allowing for these reasonable adjustments may not include the provision of extra support and the changing of physical features. A child that is thought to have special educational needs will already have been provided for in the guise of a School Action Plan or Statement of Special Educational Needs, which outlines the needs and provisions that the child requires. Depending on the child’s needs, these assessments can influence admission to certain state schools.

It’s also worth noting that schools are currently collating long-term plans in relation to improving access for the disabled.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi, my issue is that a College my Son has attended for several years after leaving his special school, used to provide courses for those with limited academic skills, such as "life skills" etc. However about 3 years ago the college changed hands and although it still takes learners with supported needs, they no longer make the reasonable adjustments required to assist the students with special needs. They are now offered courses on a take it or leave it basis, with no opportunity to try taster sessions before signing up for a course, which means they invariably choose the wrong course for them. There is also a very limited choice on offer for students with a learning disability and the times of the courses make them inaccessible for most would be learners. They just get offered the same courses year in and year out such as woodwork or gardening. Other more varied courses have to be paid for. How can I challenge this as people with LD are not being given a fair deal.
Daisy May. - 13-Sep-17 @ 6:24 PM
My son ASD going on 3 day school journey next week. I've paid £170 towards costs over months, worked on his anxieties, school are aware and helped. He's also waiting sleep clinic in case he has sleep disorder as sleeps throughout the day. I was informed yesterday if he refuses to remain or is unable to remain with the class on the journey I have to collect him due to health and safety as gheres only 3 teachers to teo classes going. My son has a statment of 25 hrs per week currently applied for ehcp plan. We live in London, the journey is based in Kent. There would be no one to collect my daughter who also has ASD if I'm in Kent. I'm fuming, surely the statement covers journey as well as when in school and this must be discrimination?!
Kelly - 16-Jun-17 @ 7:42 PM
Mill - Your Question:
Hi my son was attending a mainstream school until February when the Lea decided that the school was not meeting his needs. Sorry I should have said he is 11 and autistic. And since April he has been having 3 hrs a day with a special teacher and TA at the local youth centre. And we have been to see 18 schools and we have now been told that the Lea. Does not have a school for my son for September so he will be continuing with the same as he has now until they can find something we saw a school last September that was great for him and was told last week that he could not go there as he is to clever and the school is full. I just don't know what to do. As my son had a really bad time at his old school and was treated so bad by the headteacher and some of the staff. I am so sorry to have gone on a bit. And I would really appreciate any help please. Many thanks x

Our Response:
We suggest you speak with your local MP or someone with influence who can initiate an investigation into this.
AboutLearningDisabilities - 12-Jul-16 @ 10:58 AM
Hi my son was attending a mainstream school until February when the Leadecided that the school was not meeting his needs. Sorry I should have said he is 11 and autistic. And since April he has been having 3 hrs a day with a special teacher and TA at the local youth centre. And we have been to see 18 schools and we have now been told that the Lea. Does not have a school for my son for September so he will be continuing with the same as he has now until they can find something we saw a school last September that was great for him and was told last week that he could not go there as he is to clever and the school is full. I just don't know what to do. As my son had a really bad time at his old school and was treated so bad by the headteacher and some of the staff. I am so sorry to have gone on a bit. And I would really appreciate any help please. Many thanks x
Mill - 9-Jul-16 @ 11:42 PM
Hi @Aura2010, post 16 options include college, training courses, 6th form where he can do BTEC if he finds A levels too difficult, workforce, academies or specialist schools which are sometimes private so you may need to pay fees.
Irish - 14-Apr-16 @ 5:34 PM
Hi, I am trying to find other people who have experience with Moderate Learning Difficulties and School Placement. I have a 16 year old son with Moderate Learning Difficulties and other medically diagnosed conditions. He has a Statement of SEN. We have agreed that he should stay in education but what post 16 school options does he realistically have? I would love to hear about others experiences in this post-16 mine field? Bewildered Parent
Aura2010 - 18-Dec-12 @ 1:09 PM
Hi Can you please advise where I can get the 'Keep Safe' booklet? Thanks Kim
kim - 14-Sep-12 @ 6:57 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AboutLearningDisabilities website. Please read our Disclaimer.