The duty to make reasonable adjustments requires schools to take positive steps to ensure that disabled pupils can fully participate in education and other services and facilities which the school offers. Previously, independent schools have been able to charge parents for such adjustments that amount to an auxiliary aid or service.
From September 2012 reasonable adjustments includes the provision of auxiliary aids and services; thus it includes things such as teaching assistant support and care for children with disabilities. Schools are no longer able to charge for auxiliary aids and services where they amount to a reasonable adjustment.
Schools should undertake an audit of the reasonable adjustments that are made for pupils with special educational needs which amount to disabilities, to determine whether or not the school can charge these to parents as extras. The table below sets out factors schools should consider when making this decision.
Going forward, schools will need to consult with parents during the admissions process, or subsequently if special educational needs or a disability become apparent, taking into account these factors to determine whether the additional support required amounts to a reasonable adjustment.
The factors set out below are not an exhaustive list but are designed to shape the thought processes required in determining whether or not a required adjustment is reasonable.
The practicability of the adjustment
Schools should consider whether it is practical to provide the adjustment. The more practical the adjustment, the more likely it is to be reasonable.
Practical adjustments might include making coloured slides available to place over print for dyslexic pupils, using larger font on worksheets, introducing extra staff assistance where necessary, use of videophones.
The financial implications of providing the adjustment will need to be weighed in the balance and will be different for each setting. For example, if an adjustment could be of benefit to other pupils, it is more likely to be reasonable.
However, schools must not dismiss an adjustment as unreasonable simply because it is expensive.
Extent to which the support would be provided under Part 3 Of the Children and Families Act 2014
Some pupils will be provided with extra support through a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. Where a pupil has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an EHC plan, the substantial disadvantage will be avoided by the support they receive under the special needs framework.
However, a pupil with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or EHC plan may also need reasonable adjustments to be made in addition to the special educational provision that they are already receiving through the Statement or EHC plan.
The resources of the school and availability of financial or other assistance
Schools will need to consider the cost of making the adjustment against the resources available to the school.
Schools holding reserves will be expected to provide more by way of reasonable adjustments than those with limited financial resources. The full financial resources of an organisation should be taken into account where the school is part of a larger charity or group.
The effect of the disability on the pupil
Schools should consider the effects of the particular disability on the pupil and how this will impact his or her experience at the school. Consideration can then be given to where he or she might be put at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to other pupils and so where reasonable adjustments will be required.
Health and safety requirements
There are a number of health and safety regulations with which schools must comply. Any adjustments made must fall within these health and safety requirements and not affect the welfare of the disabled pupil, or any other member of the school community.
Risk assessments should be used to determine whether any risks to the health and safety of any pupil or member of staff is likely to arise.
Need to maintain academic, musical, sporting and other standards
Schools are entitled to maintain entrance requirements and academic standards going forward so long as adjustments have been made to the admissions procedures for the disabled prospective pupil, and more generally for the disabled pupil to enable the child to take full advantage of the education provided at the school; e.g. extra time in entrance and internal school examinations, additional learning support.
The interests of other pupils and those who may be admitted to the school as pupils
Schools will need to consider how the adjustment may impact other pupils, for example extra Learning Support Assistants or equipment in the classroom may benefit all pupils, or all those with a particular disability, and will then be available to assist other pupils who may be admitted to the school with a similar disability.
In addition, the needs of other pupils should be considered and something that might be disruptive to others might not be reasonable. However, if on the face of it the adjustment might affect other pupils, schools should consider how this can be minimised, for example providing the pupil with headphones if he or she is given software which speaks in a classroom.
|Factors to consider|
|Whether the step would overcome the substantial disadvantage||Considering the reasonable adjustments duty:
If so, is there a step that can be taken to overcome this disadvantage?
If so, this auxiliary aid or service would be something that would overcome such a disadvantage if it was provided.
|Authorised by||The Principal|
|Effective date of the policy||September 2020|
|Circulation||Teaching staff / all staff / parents / Students on request|
|Review date||September 2021|