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West Northamptonshire Council School's Accessibility Strategy (September 2024 to 2027)

West Northamptonshire Council School's Accessibility Strategy (September 2024 to 2027) logo


School's Accessibility Strategy September 2024 to 2027 


The Equality Act 2010 and related Equality Duty 2011 reiterate the duty upon schools as laid out in the previous Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The accompanying guidance for schools makes it clear that schools continue to have a duty to produce an accessibility plan.   Schools must implement accessibility plans, which are aimed at:-
  • Increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the curriculum;
  • improving the physical environment of schools to enable disabled pupils to take better advantage of education, benefits, facilities and services provided; and
  • improving the availability of accessible information to disabled pupils.

Schools will need to have regard to the need to provide adequate resources for implementing plans and must regularly review them.

Local Authorities must, for the schools for which they are responsible, prepare an accessibility strategy based on the same principle as the accessibility plans for schools. This accessibility strategy therefore applies to local authority-maintained schools, nurseries, children’s centres and early years settings. It does not apply to academies, PFI funded schools or private nursery providers on school site. Owners/governing bodies of these provisions must produce their own accessibility strategy in accordance with the Equality Act.

Key Principles and Definition

The local authority will seek to ensure that schools within its jurisdiction do not disadvantage or discriminate against a disabled pupil because of something that is a consequence of their disability

Disability: The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as “when a person has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-today activities”.   This broad description covers physical disabilities, sensory impairments, such as those affecting sight or hearing, and learning disabilities and also some specified medical conditions, HIV, multiple sclerosis and cancer are all considered as disabilities, regardless of their effect.    The Act sets out details of matters that may be relevant when determining whether a person meets the definition of disability. Long term is defined as lasting, or likely to last, for at least 12 months.    Schools:   All maintained schools and settings for which West Northamptonshire Council is responsible.    Discrimination: A public body (in this case, a school) must not disadvantage a disabled pupil because of something that is a consequence of their disability. The interpretation of “discrimination” within relation to disability in this accessibility strategy reflects changes specified in the Equality Act 2010.   The Local Authority will work closely with schools and school governors to agree reasonable adjustments which will allow disabled pupils full access to school facilities and activities   Reasonable adjustments: In the Equality Duty 2011, the duty to make reasonable adjustments applies only to disabled people. For schools, this duty is summarised as follows and this accessibility strategy recognises and promotes these principles:
  • Where something a school does places a disabled pupil at a disadvantage compared to other pupils then the school must take reasonable steps to try and avoid that disadvantage.
Schools are not subject to the other reasonable adjustment duty to make alterations to physical features because this is already considered as part of their planning duties.   In addition to having a duty to consider reasonable adjustments for particular individual disabled pupils, schools will also have to consider potential adjustments which may be needed for disabled pupils generally as it is likely that any school will have a disabled pupil at some point. It is important to note that the duty on schools to make reasonable adjustments is anticipatory. Schools should not wait until a disabled pupil arrives before making or planning to make adjustments. This may be too late and could lead to a pupil being substantially disadvantaged, it is important therefore for schools to plan a broad range of accessibility improvements over time.   However, schools are not obliged to anticipate and make adjustments for every imaginable disability and need only consider general reasonable adjustments - e.g. being prepared to produce large font papers for pupils with a visual impairment even though there are no such pupils currently admitted to the school. Such a strategic and wider view of the school’s approach to planning for disabled pupils will also link closely with its planning duties.   It is for schools to consider the reasonableness of adjustments based on the circumstances of each case. (The Equality Act does not set out what would be a reasonable adjustment or a list of factors to consider in determining what is reasonable). However, factors a school may consider when assessing the reasonableness of an adjustment may include the financial or other resources required for the adjustment, its effectiveness, its effect on other pupils, health and safety requirements and what support is available from other services. What would be a reasonable “adjustment” is often a matter of judgment and, wherever possible, should be decided by agreement between the local authority, the school and parents/carers e.g. the right of a pupil to attend a school of their choice (within the context of West Northamptonshire Councils admissions procedures) should be balanced with the responsibility of the Council and or school to make the most efficient use of its resources

Accessibility Planning 

All maintained schools will be required to have an accessibility plan which is regularly reviewed (see example Annex A). This is the responsibility of the governing body. As part of this regular review, schools will also need to have regard to the need to provide adequate resources for implementing plans and must regularly review them.   An accessibility plan may be a freestanding document but may also be published as part of another document such as the school development plan. It must be freely available to parents/carers.   Publishing, in the context of the Equality Duty, can be interpreted as making the school’s accessibility plan widely and easily available, perhaps on the school’s website. Hard copies should be available on request and, also on request; the school should be prepared to make available versions of the plan which would be accessible to parents with different communication needs (including English as a Foreign Language). Written information for disabled pupils needs to be given in formats that take account of their specific disabilities and the views expressed by the pupils and their parents about their preferred means of communication.

Increasing access to the curriculum for disabled pupils

Schools are supported to meet the needs of children with SEN by a range of specialist centrally employed staff.   West Northamptonshire Council publishes descriptors of Special Educational Needs (The Ranges) which give in detail the provision which all mainstream schools and early years settings are expected to make for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.    Training courses are available and Senco groups for staff working with early years and school age pupils, these are supported by the local authority.

Monitoring Inspection 

“Ofsted inspectors discuss with each school how it is meeting statutory requirements and evaluate and report on the impact of the school’s actions. This might include a school’s accessibility plan as part of the evidence.” Inspecting equalities: briefing for section 5 inspection: September 2012: No. 090197

Publicising this Accessibility Strategy 

This Accessibility Strategy will be publicly available on the West Northamptonshire Council Website, on the Local Offer and on the Independent Advisory Support Services SENDIASS website.

Possible Accessibility Plan with Example Targets {Insert name of school} School Accessibility Plan – 2024 to 2027: 

Improving the Curriculum Access/Physical Access or Delivery of Information (delete as appropriate)

Target Strategy OutcomeTime Frame Resonsibility Achievement

Example:  curriculum access target:

Training for staff in the identification of and teaching children with ASD and other specific learning difficulties.

All staff attend appropriate training.

Outreach provision from external agencies.

All staff are familiar with the criteria for identifying specific needs and how best to support these children in the classroom

Spring term 2025 SENCo/SEN Governor/all teaching and support staff

Children with ASD are successfully included in all aspects of school life

Review TA deployment

In review meetings with TAs establish when they are available to support children each day that may be different to current working hours

Adult support is available during key times that individual children may need support e.g. lunchtimes, PE lessons, extra-curricular activities.

Children who need individual adult support to participate in some activities have access to this support. 

Reviewed annually by Deputy Head/SENCo/TAs

  • Brackley Area
  • Daventry Area
  • Northampton Area
  • Towcester Area
  • West Northamptonshire
  • Northamptonshire
Age range
Suitable for ages from 5 years to 18 years
Referral route
No Referral Needed
For people with
Special Educational Needs or a Disability (SEND)
Eligibility criteria
Open to Everyone
Provider category
Universal Services - Suitable for Everyone


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United Kingdom


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Last updated 14 March 2024