Children with special educational needs and disabilities have their right to education in the UK protected under two main Acts: the Equality Act 2010 and the Children and Families Act 2014. These Acts give children the legal right to be able to access quality education and have their additional support needs met within schools to ensure fair access to learning.

Sir Peter Birkett is the founder of an independent special educational needs school and an ambassador for Arbor, working to promote equal rights to education for all SEN/SEND children in the UK. The infographic attachment explores the latest statistics for SEN education in the UK.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 criminalises any behaviour which victimises, harasses or discriminates against any individual based on the grounds of nine protected characteristics. These are age, sexual orientation, disability, race, gender, gender reassignment, beliefs and religion, pregnancy and maternity, and marital status.

Under Part Six of the Act, schools have a legal obligation to ensure that all pupils have access to the full complement of educational services and facilities available without discrimination. Children must not be left at a disadvantage in any area of school life, including trips, clubs and activities, and teaching and learning, due to disability or any of the protected characteristics listed above.

Some guidance for the Equality Act 2010 is outlined in the PDF attachment to this post.

The Children and Families Act 2014

The Children and Families Act 2014 replaced the Children Act 1989, providing families and organisations with a stronger framework to ensure the welfare of all children and protect those at the most disadvantage. You can see how this Act defines special educational needs and disabilities by watching the embedded short video. 

Since the launch of this new Act, all SEND services in the UK have been run jointly between schools, local authorities, health care providers, and social care services. Children with special educational needs and disabilities and their parents now have more personal control over their own circumstances, and the right to access all information pertaining to their needs and participate in decision-making processes. Local authorities have a legal obligation to publish information about all provisions and services available in the local area.