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My Child has School Anxiety………what are their rights?

Coming out of the national lockdown it is being reported that children with anxiety are struggling to reintegrate back into school. 

I am often asked by parents what their children’s rights are if they are academically achieving well but cannot access a school building because of their anxiety. Clients are often surprised to discover that their child’s school refusal or anxiety can meet the lawful criteria for disability and affords protection under the Equality Act 2010.

Under Section 6(1) of the Equality Act 2010 a person is disabled if;

(a) They have a physical or mental impairment

(b) the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010 states that if a person has a disability, then reasonable adjustments need to be made for them. This bar is set higher for emanations of the state, such as schools because of something called the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments is made up of three criteria.

The first requirement is that where a “provision, criterion or practice” puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage a school must take reasonable steps to avoid the disadvantage. For a child with anxiety this often will look like a blanket policy that applies to all children in the school that stops your child being included in some way.

The second requirement relates to physical features that put a disabled person at a disadvantage. A reasonable step in this case may be to move a school classroom downstairs for a child in a wheelchair.

The third requirement applies where your child would need an auxiliary aid to be included in a school event or teaching of some kind. This can apply to provision of a one-to-one teacher to help relieve their anxiety.

For some of these criteria it will be required to show that your child is being treated unfairly or differently compared to another child without a disability. However, in recent years this rule has become more flexible.

If a school do not make these adjustments, you are able to bring a claim in the tribunal for disability discrimination. This can be an appeal that is joined to an assessment, plan or provision appeal, meaning the appeals can be heard together. Saving time and money.

I am a Tribunal Consultant with over a decade of experience working in the special educational needs sector and am also happy to represent you at your hearing.

If you would like more information on this, I can help so please give me a call on 01323 404835.