There are several positive ways of avoiding claims and complying with the duties in the EA:

Training: senior staff need to understand their duties to children with disabilities. All staff need to be aware of the duties in the EA and to understand disability as an equality issue.

Reviewing: a review of policies, practices and procedures should look at all the different areas of the life of the school. Make sure that you have no blanket policies that might have a negative impact on children with disabilities. This is a requirement under your equality duty.

Finding out: information is a crucial part of meeting the EA duties. Schools need to provide opportunities for parents, and children with disabilities themselves, to share information. An important part of this will be developing parents’ trust that information that they share will be handled sensitively.

Getting further help: a range of services are available to schools. These vary from area to area, but will include area SENCOs and SENCO networks, visual impairment and hearing impairment services, equipment and toy libraries, health and social services support, voluntary organisations and parent partnership services. Charities are often a good source of information and support.

Develop good partnerships with parents and seek their advice and support for their child.

Always be prepared to look at your own attitudes and practices to assess whether you or your staff would benefit from more training.

Make sure all new staff and supply staff have a good understanding of your school's policies and procedures towards SEN and pupils with disabilities.

Case study 8

A child has been identified as having a visual impairment. The playground in the school was old and uneven with potholes, so could pose a danger to the child due to their visual disability. It was requested that the school places cones in the depressions so that the child could make a distinction and avoid possible danger in the playground. Despite recommendations from the visual and mobility services and parents, the school refuses to comply and no attempt was made to put cones in the playground.

Was the less favourable treatment justified?

Was there a reasonable adjustment that could have been made?

Suggested answers can be found on page 76.