Under the Equality Act 2010, schools have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils, staff and visitors. Schools must make positive efforts to remove or reduce the barriers a disabled pupil, member of staff or visitor may face in their world of school and work, and ensure it accommodates them to the best of its’ ability.
The NSPCC state that while statute legally defines a child or young person as “looked after” by prescribed categories, many prefer the term “children or young people in care”, so it is important to elicit the thoughts and opinions of those who live with these labels to ensure that they are used appropriately and thoughtfully both in and out of the school setting.
As with everything the ups and downs of life impact on a school’s ability to deliver their vision to pupils. The ideal is a school where all posts are filled by staff immune to both illness and the temptations of another job or promotion, but in the real world it is often supply teachers, employed directly from a school’s own group of regulars or from an agency, who are called upon to fill in gaps on a long term or ad hoc basis.
Most schools would describe their “supply experience” as chequered; illustrated with stories of both horror and heroism. Much has been made of a school’s expectations of supply teachers, reinforced by safeguarding legislation and the competitive nature of both academy and agency markets, but what about a school’s statutory, professional and pastoral responsibilities towards them?
A supply teacher arrives at a school when it is at its most hectic; often met by an administrator who is juggling with staff issues, pupil illness and a telephone that never stops ringing. Although we can all relate to this it is no excuse as if you demand a professional you must be professional too.
A loophole in The Equality Act 2010 that allowed schools to disproportionately exclude more pupils with SEND for being violent (even though their behaviour may have been a direct consequence of or affected by their disability) on the grounds that they did not have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled children when they have a tendency to physical abuse even when that behaviour is down to a lack of appropriate support has been closed. The Equality Act 2010 states that an impairment not deemed to be a disability is a, “tendency to physical or sexual abuse of other persons”. Some schools had argued that the tendency to physical abuse of others is not regarded as an impairment under The Equality Act 2010 so pupils could be excluded.
Is it time to reflect, reassess and reconsider the efficacy of your school’s SEN provision in relation to both the expectations and statutory responsibilities required of it?
Assessments and reviews must not be mere box ticking exercises but rather need as a process to be so structured and tight as to be almost tangible.
The timetraveller.blog writes again for Compliance Matters the educational compliance magazine from Handsam Ltd. Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 came into force on the 3rd September and there is a renewed and clarified emphasis on the safeguarding of children with SEN and Disabilities, as well as a focus on “Looked After” (LAC), children whatever their... Continue Reading →