What are reasonable adjustments and who can get this support?

Reasonable adjustments are changes made to ensure disabled pupils can participate in their education and enjoy the other facilities that the school provides. Schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to avoid putting disabled at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled pupils as defined in the Equality Act 2010.

The Act says that a pupil has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Physical or mental impairment includes sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing.

Some disabled pupils will also have special educational needs (SEN) and may be receiving support via school-based SEN provision or an education, health and care plan (EHC plan).

The fact that a disabled pupil has an EHC plan does not take away a school’s duty to make reasonable adjustments for that pupil. In practice, of course, many disabled pupils who also have an EHC plan will receive all the support they need through the SEN framework and there will be nothing extra that the school has to do. However, some disabled pupils will not have SEN and some disabled pupils with SEN will still need reasonable adjustments to be made for them, in addition to any support that they receive through the SEN framework.

Schools may have to provide a disabled pupil with:

  • A piece of equipment
  • Assistance from a sign language interpreter,
  • speaker or deaf-blind communicator
  • Extra staff assistance
  • An electronic or manual notetaking service
  • Specialised computer software
  • Extended time for exams.