ACCESSIBILITY PLANS – GUIDANCE FOR SCHOOLS 2008-2011

This document sets out the Authority’s Guidance to Schools on the production of Accessibility Plans.

The Guidance should be read in conjunction with the Authority’s Accessibility Strategy, which sets out the plans for increasing progressively the accessibility of schools to disabled pupils.

This guidance document has been produced by the Accessibility Strategy Group, a multi-agency group convened by the directorate to draft the Accessibility Strategy and Action Plan, the Guidance for Schools, and to oversee the implementation of the strategy, its monitoring, review and evaluation.

It is envisaged that this document provides sufficient guidance to schools to be able to produce Accessibility Plans.   Further, more detailed, guidance is available in the Welsh Assembly Government Circular No.15/2004 entitled Planning to Increase Access to Schools for Disabled Pupils.

Download the full document here

LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK

There are three main strands of legislation which support disabled children and young people in school:

The purpose of the SEN framework is to identify and provide for the special educational needs of individual children, some of whom may be disabled, who need provision that is additional to, or different from, provision normally available in schools maintained by the Local Education Authority (LEA). The SEN Code of Practice for Wales (2002) provides guidance to schools and LEAs on the SEN framework.

Children with Statements of Special Educational Needs are expected to be educated in a mainstream school unless this is against their parent’s wishes or incompatible with the efficient education of other children.   It is reasonable to expect that planning to increase access for disabled pupils will help the inclusion of children and young people with statements of special educational needs.

From 1996, schools and LEAs have already had statutory responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and, since September 2002, it has been unlawful for schools and LEAs to discriminate against disabled pupils in their arrangements for admissions and exclusions and for the provision of education and associated services.

Under these duties, schools and LEAs must:

Section 28D of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001) places a duty on LEAs to plan strategically to increase over time the accessibility of all their schools, including Pupil Referral Units and maintained nursery schools; and places a duty on the bodies responsible for schools to plan to increase the accessibility of their schools.

In fulfilling these duties LEAs and schools are under a duty to prepare accessibility strategies and plans respectively.  The strategies and plans should focus on:

The planning duties for LEAs and schools in Wales commenced on the 8th of October 2003. Accessibility Strategies and Accessibility Plans should have been in place by the 1st April 2004. Strategies and Plans should cover a three year period and be reviewed and revised as necessary, with new plans and strategies produced at three yearly intervals.

From 1st April 2007, following the implementation of the DDA (2005), all primary and secondary schools in Wales have been required to have in place Disability Equality Schemes.  These schemes set out a school’s approach to ensuring that disabled pupils, staff and governors, parents/carers and other people using the school are treated equally.

DEFINITIONS

The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) defines a disabled person as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term affect on his or her ability to carry out normal day to day activities”.

Physical or mental impairment include sensory impairments and learning difficulties. The definition also covers certain medical conditions when they have a long-term and substantial effect on a person’s every day life. Mental health conditions are also covered when they are clinically well recognised illnesses.

The definition only includes ‘those whose impairments are more than minor or trivial, and extend beyond the normal range of differences in ability that exist’.

Children and young people with a disability should not automatically be considered to have a special educational need.   The Education Act 1996 states that “children have a special educational need if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them”. Children and young people have a learning difficulty if they: