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School trips and disability: schools hotline FAQs

Practical Law Public Sector addresses the questions that schools may ask local authorities regarding day-to-day school management and sets out the legal issues to consider when responding:

This FAQ looks at the issues surrounding including pupils with disabilities in school trips. For details of all our school hotline queries, please see Practice note, Schools hotline FAQs.

Q: We are going on a residential trip during the school week. Josh is in a wheelchair and needs one-to-one support. His carer only works with him during school hours and does not want to come on the trip. Josh’s parents are keen for him to come on the trip but the school cannot afford to pay for 24-hour support for him. What should we do?

A: If, following a risk assessment, it is clear that Josh requires one-to-one support, the school should consider how this may be provided, for example, another teacher or the child’s parent might be able to attend.

Section 20(5) of, and Schedule 13 to, the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) relate specifically to reasonable adjustments in relation to schools. These provisions place education providers under a duty to make reasonable adjustments in order to prevent disabled pupils suffering a substantial disadvantage by, among other things, providing auxiliary aids (which could potentially include a 24-hour carer). What will be considered to be a “reasonable” adjustment is not defined in the EqA 2010 but a valid consideration is likely to include the cost associated with the reasonable adjustment. For more information, see Practice note, Equality Act 2010: education providers: Duty to make reasonable adjustments.

From 1 September 2014, a new duty came into force for governing bodies to make arrangements to support pupils at school with medical conditions, including those that are not classified as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (section 100, Children and Families Act 2014). This duty includes ensuring that pupils with medical conditions are properly supported so that they have full access to education, including school trips. DfE guidance on this duty states that school governing bodies should ensure that their arrangements are clear and unambiguous about the need to support actively pupils with medical conditions to participate in school trips and visits and must not prevent them from doing so (see paragraphs 40 and 41, DfE: Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions (September 2014) and Legal update, Updated statutory guidance published on supporting pupils at school with medical conditions). Teachers should be aware of how Josh’s medical condition will impact on his participation in the trip, but there should be enough flexibility for all children to participate according to their own abilities and with any reasonable adjustments.

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