‘Where something a school does places a disabled pupil at a disadvantage compared to other pupils then the school must take reasonable steps to try and avoid that disadvantage’ - Equality Act 2010 and Schools (opens a new window)
Equality legislation sets out a clear expectation that disabled children and young people should be given the same opportunities to participate as their peers. All children are equal. All schools are responsible for providing a broad, balanced and inclusive curriculum for all pupils.
According to Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education), learning outside the classroom makes a clear contribution to the learning and development of young people.
‘When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils' personal, social and emotional development.’
Children and young people with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) can benefit enormously from participating in day trips and residential trips alongside their peers. However, it is necessary to plan carefully before the visit to ensure that access is good for all pupils and the experience gives the child/young person with SEND the greatest chance of success and equality. Under the Equality Act the school must make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled pupils are not placed at a substantial disadvantage to their peers. The following guidance will ensure that schools are maximising the inclusion of all children in school trips.
The guidelines have been produced alongside consultations with children and young people. Direct quotes have been included where appropriate.
What should you be doing as a school?
The key to including young people with SEND is to anticipate, at all stages of planning, the challenges they, and you, will encounter.
Remember that some young people may react adversely to changes in their normal routine or environment. Achieving for Children would advise all schools and settings to plan their educational visits and learning outside the classroom opportunities on the basis of assuming that all pupils will be able to take part, just as you would within school premises.
The Equality Act 2010 does not require a school to cancel school trips or any other activities arranged for pupils, but it does require a school to look at ways in which to ensure that pupils with SEND are given the same opportunities to participate as other pupils. This might include considering alternative trips to those previously or traditionally arranged by the school, providing additional assistance to enable the pupil with SEND to attend or making sure that part of a trip is accessible for every pupil. By working with pupils with SEND and their parents, who will have experience of taking their children on trips and outings, and learning from the experiences of other schools, schools are likely to be able to come up with collaborative, thoughtful solutions that mean that everyone is able to benefit from the trip or activity.
Schools should make arrangements for the inclusion of pupils with a medical condition with any adjustments as required, unless evidence from a clinician such as a GP states that this is not possible. The statutory guidance is Supporting pupils with medical conditions at school (opens a new window).
Please note, our ‘real-life’ examples of reasonable adjustments (opens a new window) provide ideas and inspiration for sensible adaptations and alternatives. Also, Things to consider and case studies (opens a new window).