What the law says about special educational needs and disability

All schools, colleges and other educational settings must offer help to improve the outcomes of children and young people with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND).

The Code of Practice

An SEN Code of Practice sets out what we must do to help children and young people with SEND needs reach their educational goals.

The Code of Practice applies to the whole country and says that all children are entitled to an education that lets them:

  • achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes
  • become confident children and young people with a growing ability to communicate their own views.

Download more information about what schools and educational settings must provide for children and young people with SEND (PDF 59KB).

The Equality Act

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the legal obligations for schools, early years providers, post-16 institutions, local authorities and other providers towards disabled children and young people.

It says they must consider the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination
  • promote equality of opportunity
  • foster good relations between disabled and non-disabled children and young people.

The Equality Act also says that schools and educational settings must:

  • make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to procedures, criteria and practices
  • make physical alterations and provide aids and services to make sure that disabled children and young people are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers
  • publish accessibility plans setting out how they plan to increase access to the curriculum, the physical environment and information for disabled pupils
  • publish information to demonstrate how they are doing what The Equality Act says they should do, now and in future.

Schools and educational settings must not:

  • harass or victimise disabled children and young people
  • discriminate for a reason arising as a result of a child or young person’s disability in the provision of services and education.

School governing bodies and owners must:

  • publish information about the arrangements for the admission of disabled children
  • publish information about the steps taken to prevent disabled children being treated less favourably than others
  • publish information about the facilities provided to assist access of disabled children, and their accessibility plans.

Additional information

You may be interested in the following related information: