April 2023 – Reasonable Adjustments
What are Reasonable Adjustments
Reasonable adjustments can be largely described as the positive steps educational settings must take to enable a disabled pupil to participate in the life of the nursery, school or college.
The term reasonable adjustments is often used in quite a general way to apply to all children with Special Educational Needs. In law, it is specifically about the changes made to support a disabled child.
What does ‘disabled’ mean?
A child or young person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities (section 6 of the Equality Act 2010).
“Substantial” means more than minor or trivial and “long term” means lasting more than one year or likely to last more than one year.
What should settings do?
The Equality Act 2010 specifies the duty on education providers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that disabled pupils are not discriminated against. Where something a school does places a disabled pupil at a disadvantage compared to other pupils then the school must take reasonable steps to try and avoid that disadvantage.
What types of adaptations should be considered?
Provisions, criteria and practices
This is about the way in which a school operates, including their decisions and actions, on daily basis. For example, a school uniform policy.
Auxiliary aids and services
This is any additional support or help for a disabled pupil that supports them to access the curriculum, such as a piece of equipment or support from a member of staff.
This is the physical make-up of the buildings. Schools do not have to make physical alterations to improve accessibility, for example, adding ramps, but they must publish a plan to improve accessibility for disabled pupils and include the steps they are going to take to implement it.
Should settings plan ahead?
Yes. Settings and Local Authorities should not wait and respond to difficulties as they emerge: the duty on them is ‘anticipatory’. This means they have to think through what is likely to be needed in advance. When planning and reviewing special educational provision, they should consider the reasonable adjustments and access arrangements needed for a pupil to prevent them from being put at a disadvantage.
What about admission arrangements for disabled pupils?
Schools must publish information about the arrangements for the admission of disabled pupils, the steps taken to prevent disabled pupils from being treated less favourably than other pupils, the facilities provided to assist access for disabled pupils and the schools’ accessibility plans. This information should be available through the Local Authority’s Local Offer which details available provision for all children with SEN in their local area.
What does ‘Reasonable’ mean?
‘Reasonable’ is not defined in law so there is no clear definition of what would be classed as reasonable. It comes down to agreement on an individual basis that something would be reasonable for a school or local authority to do, or not, with the overall aim to remove or reduce any disadvantage faced by a disabled pupil, as far as possible.
What should be considered in deciding whether an adjustment is ‘reasonable’
Settings should consider:
- how much difference the changes would make to the pupil
- how practical it would be to make the changes
- any cost implications
- the available resources and availability of additional funds
- health and safety requirements
- how the adjustment might affect other pupils.
What about School Trips and Out-of-School Activities?
Pupils with disabilities should have equal access to the social activities which are part of school life, including school trips and out of school activities that are managed by the school.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission technical guidance for schools recommends a risk assessment approach to help plan for various scenarios which could happen when they are on a school trip. Schools should consider the specific needs of the pupil at planning stage of any trip.
What are some examples of reasonable adjustments?
- Flexibility with uniform policies (e.g. shorts instead of trousers or round neck T-shirt rather than polo shirt)
- Time out cards
- Leaving five minutes early for classes and breaks
- Suitable exam arrangements for SAT’S and GCSE’s
- Access to a safe space or sensory room
- Printing out lesson notes or PowerPoint slides
- Regular movement breaks
- Differentiated or removal of homework
- Remove use of cold calling for pupil
- Allowing extra processing time
- Printing with dyslexia friendly paper and font
- Supporting the use of noise blocking headphones
- Work area free from visual clutter
- Highlighting and explaining when changes will be happening
- Arriving late without interrogation
- Being able to sit on a chair instead of the carpet
- Use of a laptop
- Choice of where to eat lunch
Equality Act – https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents
SEND and You – Reasonable Adjustment Resource
Equality and Human Rights Commission – Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled Pupils