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Inclusion and Equality

Supporting inclusion in schools

All maintained schools and academies must welcome and cater for any child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), except in very limited circumstances when they can prove that it would be detrimental to the education of other pupils and there are no reasonable steps they can take to solve that. They must use their ‘best endeavours’ to make sure that a child with special educational needs get the support they need. 

All schools have duties under the Equality Act 2010 and should promote disability equality towards individual children and young people.  Schools must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services to prevent children and young people from being put at a substantial disadvantage. 

All schools are expected to have an Accessibility Plan for disabled pupils, that parents and carers can view on the school website or receive a copy upon request. The plan should outline objectives to overcome barriers to accessing the curriculum and an action plan to improve physical access and reasonable adjustments in a classroom setting.

Mainstream schools and maintained nurseries must have a Special Educational Needs (SENCO) who is suitably qualified or experienced and is responsible for overseeing the support the school gives to all their pupils with SEND. Schools must also publish a SEND Information Report which includes:

  • schools policies on how they will identify and assess children’s special educational needs; the provision available to children with or without an Education, Health Care Plan;
  • reviewing and monitoring the effectiveness of the provision;
  • the approach to teaching and how changes are made to the work given and to the setting;
  • the expertise and training of staff; and how children and young people with SEN are enabled to engage in activities available with children and young people in the school who do not have SEN
  • support for improving emotional and social development. This should include extra pastoral support arrangements for listening to the views of children and young people with SEN and measures to prevent bullying
  • how the school involves health and social care bodies, local authority support services and voluntary sector organisations, in meeting children and young people’s SEN and supporting their families
  • arrangements for handling complaints from parents of children with SEN about the provision made at the school

(For fuller explanation see SEND Code of Practice 6.79)

To find out more about special educational needs support in mainstream schools, please see our leaflet:

Special Educational Needs support in mainstream schools

Please follow this link to the Government Guidelines for Parents about attending out of school settings during the coronavirus covid 19 outbreak.

Childcare, Out of School clubs and holiday clubs

All Ofsted registered nurseries, pre-schools and nursery classes, must make arrangements to support children with SEN and make information about this available to parents. They should identify a member of staff, to be take a lead in special educational needs, usually a Special Educational Needs Coordinator, to advise colleagues and ensure that parents are actively involved in decisions. Childminders are ‘encouraged’ to identify someone to act as the SENCO, perhaps shared with others registered with the same agency. All early years settings, which offer free childcare for two, three and four year olds must follow the SEND Code of Practice 2014. 

For information about local childcare providers click on the link below to Kent’s Children and Families Information Service:

When your child starts at a group childcare setting, they will be appointed a key person responsible for planning their activities. This key person will keep a daily record of your child’s progress and will share it on a regular basis with you.

To find out how nurseries can support your child’s special educational needs, see our Leaflet SEN support in Early Years. 

All childcare providers and schools are expected under the Equality Act 2010 to make 'reasonable adjustments' to meet the needs of disabled children. They must not treat disabled children 'less favourably' than someone else for a reason related to their disability.

Out of school and holiday clubs can be run directly by the school, a private company or a voluntary organisation.  They offer school age children the opportunity to play, do sports and creative activities or study in a safe environment around school hours and during the school holidays. 

You can speak to the school SENCo or manager of the provision to discuss your child’s needs. If the staff team require additional training, you should discuss with them who should provide this training – it may-be you, a health worker or a specialist.

To find out more about special educational needs support in the early years, please see our leaflet:

Special Educational Needs (SEN) support in the early years

Please follow this link to the Government Guidelines for Parents about attending out of school settings during the coronavirus covid 19 outbreak.

Including children with SEND in activities and school trips

Good practice is that all activities both within and outside of the school should be planned to ensure that they are accessible for all children to be able to attend and enjoy along with their peers. 

Section 35 of the Children and Families Act 2014 says that schools and nurseries can only exclude a child from activities if:

  • it is not reasonably practicable for them to be included;
  • being included would prevent them from receiving the support they need; or
  • being included would prevent the efficient education of other children or the efficient use of resources.

All schools have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments so that a disabled pupil is not put at a substantial disadvantage compared to other pupils. Schools also have a duty not to treat a disabled pupil less favourably than other pupils because of their disability or something arising from their disability. This applies unless the school can show that the less favourable treatment was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, such as safeguarding the health and safety of others. 

The Equality and Human Rights commission have some useful guidance about making 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled pupils.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments applies to School trips.

The Equality Act does not override health and safety legislation.  Schools can carry out a risk assessment before each trip and consider accessibility together with safeguarding the health and safety for all pupils.   

A risk assessment is an examination of what has the potential to cause harm, who might be affected and identify what safety measures are needed to reduce risks to an acceptable level.  The risk assessment can also consider other elements of the trip for example the type of activities that will be undertaken, mode of transport, the venue and whether the public will be present.

The Outdoor Education Advisory panel have some National guidance for schools when planning trips for children with SEND, which might be useful when preparing your questions and concerns: OEP Educational visits END Guide(opens PDF).

If, for any reason you feel that your child would not benefit from attending a trip or feel that they would become too overwhelmed, then you can discuss alternative arrangements for your child. These may include your child joining another class for the day or to enjoy some planned activities within a smaller group.

If you feel your child is being disadvantaged, please see the 'What if I believe my child is being disadvantaged in school?' section below.

For children with medical conditions

Government guidance 'Supporting Pupils in Schools with medical conditions'   says:

Pupils at school with medical conditions should be properly supported so that they have full access to education, including school trips and physical education.

Schools should consider what reasonable adjustments they might make to enable children with medical needs to participate fully and safely on visits. (24)

It is generally not acceptable practice to prevent children from participating, or create unnecessary barriers to children participating in any aspect of school life, including school trips, e.g. by requiring parents to accompany the child. (25)

If you feel your child is being disadvantaged, please see the 'What if I believe my child is being disadvantaged in school?' section below.

Access Arrangements for Exams

Some students with Special Educational Needs and/or a disability may qualify for adjustments with exams, these are known as 'access arrangements'.  You can read the full regulations & guidance that settings must consider on the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) website. (for SATS this will be with the Standards and Testing Agency)

If you believe your child may qualify, talk to the school SENCO or the examinations lead. Consider whether you have any school, specialist or medical reports that might help to evidence any adjustments.

  • Not all children with SEND will qualify. Decisions are based on the need/s of the child and their normal way of working.
  • Access arrangements should be considered at the start of a course.
  • Settings can decide on some adjustments, such as supervised rest breaks, and for other types, such as extra time, they must make an application by the published deadline.
  • quick glance list of the various adjustments and which must be applied for online by the setting, can be found on page 87 of the access arrangements regulations.
  • Schools must evidence there is a need for the adjustment, and that this is the normal way of working for the child.
  • Decisions should be on a subject-by-subject basis, there are some examples in the JCQ guidance.

What if I believe my child is being disadvantaged in school?

Talk to your child's teacher, SENCO, it can be helpful to request a meeting.

Ahead of this conversation, have a look at the school’s SEND Information Report (Please see the 'Supporting inclusion in schools' section above), which will include information about how children in the school are enabled to take part in activities alongside children without SEND.  If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan you may need to consider whether the support needs reviewing? 

If you still have concerns, you can raise these with the Head Teacher or make a formal complaint to the school and Governing body. The school’s own website will have information about their complaint’s procedure.

If you feel your disabled child has been discriminated against, you may be able to complain to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal to find out whether you can do this click on this link to the Government website:

If you want to make a claim to the tribunal you must do it within 6 months of the incident. 

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) has further information on their website about disability discrimination in schools, and the actions available to you.