Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for schools and local authorities to discriminate against disabled pupils. The Act includes duties to make sure disabled pupils are not treated less favourably than other pupils. Schools have to make reasonable adjustments where they are needed. Schools generally have to make sure that disabled pupils can play as full a part in school life as possible which includes going on school trips.
The Act does not require a school to cancel trips or any other activities arranged for pupils but it does require them to look at ways to make sure that disabled pupils are given the same opportunities to take part as other pupils. A school’s duty to make reasonable adjustments is an anticipatory one. This means because in most cases disabled pupils will be known to the school or local authority the need to arrange suitable support should be part of the longer-term planning for the pupil.
Reasonable adjustments may include:
- thinking about alternative trips to the ones previously arranged by the school,
- providing additional assistance, such as asking a learning assistant who supports the child in school to go with the child on the visit, to enable the disabled pupil to attend.
The Act does not override health and safety legislation. Schools may still need to undertake risk assessments to ensure all pupils attending the trip are safe.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission have produced guidance for schools detailing the duties of schools under the Act. Guidance about reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils can be found here. (Pages 11, 19, 23 and 27 include information about the reasonable adjustments duty relating to residential school trips).