Accessibility Policy, Disability Equality Scheme & Disability Equality Duty

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1 1 Accessibility Policy, Disability Equality Scheme & Disability Equality Duty We are committed to ensuring equality of education and opportunity for disabled children, staff and all those receiving services from the school. We aim to develop a culture of inclusion and diversity in which people feel free to disclose their disability and to participate fully in school life. Our Accessibility Policy aims to reduce, and work to eliminate, barriers to access to the curriculum and to full participation in the school community for children, and staff, with a disability. The school works to ensure that there is person-centred approach to access and inclusion, and works with the children, parent/carers, school staff and other professionals to ensure that everyone s needs are assessed carefully and strategies put in place to enable full access to the curriculum, work and learning environment. 1. A Definition of Disability: We support the definition of disability devised by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 [DDA] A person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.. New duties came into effect in September 2002, extending the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to cover every aspect of education. The Special Educational Needs & Disability Act 2001 amends the Disability Discrimination Act to prevent discrimination against disabled people in their access to education. The duties make it unlawful to discriminate, without justification, against pupils and prospective pupils, in all aspects of school life. The principle behind the legislation, fully supported by the school, is that wherever possible disabled people should have the same opportunities as non-disabled people in their access to education. From September 2002 there has been a requirement for the school to publish an annually revised accessibility action plan to help ensure that: a) All pupils have full access to curriculum and school experiences b) The school has sufficient capability to help individual pupils overcome barriers to learning Compliance with the DDA is consistent with our ethos and the equal opportunities policy, and in the operation of our SEN policy, and all other policy and guidance produced by

2 2 the school. The school recognises its duty under the DDA: a) Not to discriminate against disabled people in our admissions and employment procedures, or in the provision of education or training b) Not to treat disabled people less favourably and to take reasonable steps, and make reasonable adjustments, to avoid putting disabled staff, children or other members of the community at a substantial disadvantage c) To publish an annually revised Accessibility Action Plan We will therefore work to: d) Be a fully inclusive school. We will endeavor to create an environment which does not adversely affect any member of the school community, and which promotes enjoyment and achievement for all. e) Recognise and value parents/carers knowledge of their child s disability and its effect on his/her ability to carry out normal activities, and we ll work to respect parents/carers and child s right to confidentiality. f) Provide all children with a broad and balanced curriculum, differentiated and adjusted to meet the needs of individual children and their preferred learning styles; and endorses the key principles enshrined in the National Curriculum framework, which underpin the development of our inclusive curriculum. The achievement of disabled children will be monitored and we will use this data to raise standards and ensure inclusive teaching. We will make reasonable adjustments to make sure that the school environment is as accessible as possible. g) Seek work in partnership with appropriate specialist professionals to ensure barriers to learning are addressed and overcome. h) Take account of the needs of all staff, children and visitors when planning and undertaking future improvements and refurbishment of the site and premises, such as improved access, lighting, acoustic treatments and colour schemes, and more accessible facilities and fittings. i) Provide information in alternative formats when required. We will work to ensure that all communications are accessible. All school paper communications can be made available in a range of formats, eg. and enlarged print versions, and can be requested from the head teacher. j) Act as a community hub for sharing information within the wider school community. We will both offer services internally and work to signpost courses and training to help address, and reduce, barriers to learning and achievement.

3 3 The school has full wheelchair access throughout, the two sections with second floor facilities have lifts to enable wheelchair access. The Accessibility Action Plan focuses on the following areas: access & independence; respect & well-being and safeguarding. 2. Our Disability Equality Duty [based on NAHT advice 2006] a. What is the Disability Equality Duty? This is a new requirement for public sector bodies to pay due regard to promoting equality for disabled people in every area of their work. They will need to take an organisational approach and weave disability equality into the everyday working of the organisation, particularly in relation to formulating policy and practices around both service delivery and employment, but also in relation to other functions such as setting budgets, making public appointments, funding and regulatory roles. There is a general duty, which applies to all public bodies and additional specific duties to support the majority of public bodies in achieving the outcomes required by the general duty b. How does the duty impact here? All schools in England and Wales are subject to the general and specific duties, this includes primary schools, secondary schools and City Academies. For primary schools in England it is December c. What does the general duty require public bodies to do? The general duty requires public authorities to adopt a proactive approach, mainstreaming disability equality into all decisions and activities. A public authority must, when carrying at their functions, have due regard to the need to do six things: i. Promote equality of opportunity between disabled people and other people ii. Eliminate discrimination that is unlawful under the DDA iii. Eliminate harassment of disabled people that is related to disability iv. Promote positive attitudes towards disabled people v. Encourage participation by disabled people in public life vi. Take steps to meet disabled peoples needs, even if this requires more favourable treatment. d. The general duty will build on existing responsibilities under disability legislation in relation to schools, including the duties to make reasonable adjustments, and

4 4 to plan strategically to increase access to schools over time. Schools can implement the general duty by actively reviewing all their policies, procedures and planned access improvements to remove barriers with a view to greater recruitment and retention of disabled staff; and greater participation of disabled pupils, disabled parents and disabled people in all aspects of school life, in the wider community and in the non-educational services they might provide e. To promote equality of opportunity, a school reviews its accessibility plan to ensure that its planned developments will benefit other disabled users of school premises such as teachers, parents and other members of the local community who might use the school premises. f. What does promoting positive attitudes towards disabled people mean in practice? Negative attitudes, such as demeaning stereotypes or lack of respect towards disabled people, are not only unhelpful, but can lead to discrimination and place unnecessary restrictions on disabled people. This is often also true of the absence of representation of disabled people in public images. In order to contribute to the overall goal of promoting equality of opportunity, authorities will need to consider what they can do to eliminate ignorance and prejudice in the wider community. In addition to building positive attitudes towards disabled people into the ethos of the school, schools may also promote positive attitudes to disability in lessons such as citizenship through discussion of the skills and knowledge that well-known disabled people who are public figures have which enables them to play an active role as citizens. Positive attitudes to disabled people will be particularly promoted if teaching staff ensure that the views and contributions of disabled children are valued, for example, by ensuring that disabled children who require support or advocacy to participate in debates receive it. g. What are the specific duties? This is a framework to assist authorities in planning, delivering and evaluating actions to meet the general duty and to report on these activities. At the heart of this framework is the Disability Equality Scheme. h. So what are public bodies required to do? First and foremost public bodies must publish a Disability Equality Scheme which must demonstrate how they intend to fulfil their general and specific duties. This scheme must incorporate an action plan and they need to involve disabled people in developing the scheme. Then they must take the actions set out in the

5 5 action plan and put into effect measures for gathering and acting on evidence. Additionally they will need to report on this progress annually. Public bodies must review and revise the scheme every three years. i. What should Disability Equality Scheme include? The essential elements which the Disability Equality Scheme must include are: i. How disabled people have been involved in developing the scheme ii. The action plan iii. Arrangements for gathering information about performance of the public body on disability equality iv. Arrangements for assessing the impact of the activities of the authority on disability equality and improving these when necessary v. Details of how the authority is going to use the information gathered, in particular in reviewing the effectiveness of its action plan and preparing subsequent schemes j. Who should prepare the Disability Equality Scheme? It is important to ensure that the Disability Equality Scheme demonstrates commitment at the very highest level of the authority. The introduction could be signed by the Chief Executive or equivalent. In schools, the Chair of Governors and the Headteacher could sign the introduction to the Disability Equality Scheme. In addition, it would be beneficial for a senior member of staff to take overall responsibility for the implementation of the disability equality duty and the Scheme. Having someone with disability expertise to advise and co-ordinate would also be beneficial. k. Should the scheme be published? The scheme must be published and authorities will need to ensure that this is accessible to the whole community. The school includes information on its website. l. What areas should information be gathered on? i. All authorities subject to the specific duties must set out and put into place arrangements for gathering information in relation to recruitment, development and retention of disabled employees. ii. Educational bodies need to consider the effect of their policies and practices on the educational opportunities and achievements of disabled learners. The definition of disability under the Act is different from the

6 6 eligibility criteria for special educational needs provision. This means that disabled pupils may or may not have special educational needs. iii. Schools will need to bear in mind that information collected on pupils based on special educational needs categories will not necessarily capture all those pupils who are disabled.

7 7 Appendix 1. Disability Equality Audit & Action Plan (nb. This plan is timetabled for completion and ratification by the Performance & Quality Committee in the Spring Term 2016) The Issue Audit Strategy (inc. Timescale) Outcome Is information collected on disability with regards to both pupils and staff? Is this information used to improve the provision of services? Is information collected on disability with regards to both pupils and staff? Is this information used to improve the provision of services? Is pupil achievement monitored by disability? Are there are trends or patterns in the data that may require additional action? Are disabled pupils encouraged to participate in school life? How is this shown through representation in school events such as class assemblies and the school council? Is bullying and harassment of disabled pupils and staff monitored and is this information used to make a difference? Is disability portrayed positively in school books, displays and discussions such as circle

8 8 time and class assemblies? Is disability portrayed positively in school books, displays and discussions such as circle time and class assemblies? Does the school take part in annual events such as Deaf Awareness week to raise awareness of disability? Is the school environment as accessible as possible to pupils, staff and visitors to the school? Are open evenings and other events which parents or carers attend held in an accessible part of the school? Is information available to parents, visitors, pupils and staff in formats which are accessible if required? Is everyone aware of this? Are procedures for the election of parent governors open to candidates and voters who are disabled? Policy agreed by staff on: Autumn Term 2015 Policy agreed by governors on: Spring Term 2016 Frequency of Review: At least every three years

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