The Disability Discrimination Act (as amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001) requires all schools and Local Authorities to plan to increase the accessibility of schools for disabled pupils. Local Authorities must prepare an accessibility strategy covering all maintained schools in their area, and each school must produce its own accessibility plan. They must have written documentation covering an initial period of three years. Both school and Local Authorities are required to plan for:
Improving access to the physical environment of schools
This includes improvements to the environment of the school, which can include visual, acoustic and physical environments. All new school buildings have to comply with the Building Regulations and the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 and should be physically accessible to disabled pupils. Much of the work in the area of improving the physical environment will therefore involve improving access to existing buildings.
Increasing access for disabled pupils to the curriculum
Access to the curriculum covers not only teaching and learning, but also the wider curriculum such as after-school activities, leisure, sporting and cultural activities or school visits. Local Authorities may be able to help schools by offering staff training, encouraging schools to work together and share good practice, and by offering schools a range of support services such as advice on teaching techniques, classroom management and curriculum material.
Improving the delivery of written information to disabled pupils
This covers planning to make written information normally provided by the school to its pupils available to disabled pupils. Information should take account of pupils’ disabilities and parents’ preferred formats and should be made available within a reasonable timescale. Local Authorities and schools have a duty to review their strategies and plans, revise them if necessary and to implement them. Local Authorities and schools should prioritise resources for implementing their strategies and plans.
The Disability Discrimination Act describes a disability as a ‘physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect upon their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’ Impairments include sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing, and people who have had a disability are protected from discrimination even if they no longer have a disability. Mental illnesses that are clinically well-recognised are included. So, for example, medically diagnosed ADHD is considered a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act. While many disabled pupils have, or may be eligible for, statements of Special Educational Needs, not all disabled pupils have SEN. Equally, not all pupils with SEN will necessarily have a disability under this legislation.
Merit carries out its duties as an employer by making reasonable amendments to facilitate employees and any specific requirements they may need to enable them to work at the site. This support may be in the form of physical alterations or support whilst at work.
We have the following in place at the moment:
Merit provides support for students who experience difficulties with moving around the site and for those who require special medical provision.
Wheelchair users – 1
Semi Ambulant – 1
All of these pupils have an individual risk assessment and personal evacuation plan. Support is provided in the dining hall at lunch and break. Students provided with access to appropriate professional medical support.
Emergency Medical Protocol
When a pupil requires a certain response to a medical incident, we make staff aware of the issue and give them a specific response to follow in the event of circumstances coming to pass. Parents and medical professionals are involved in the formulation of any risk assessments and plans.
The support provided is designed to maximise accessibility for pupils and employees. However, there are some circumstances that are beyond what the school can reasonably accommodate. A limiting factor to the school's accessibility is the fact that we do not have a lift to the upper floors and one cannot be accommodated due to the building layout.