Grammar schools in England will have to ensure their entrance exams are accessible

A legal ruling has found a visually impaired child experienced discrimination after the entry exams for an English grammar school were not accessible.

Now, grammar schools across England will have to ensure their 11-plus entrance exams are accessible to disabled pupils.  

ACCESSIBLE

The boy in question – who cannot be named – applied for entry at Reading School, but he was unbale to sit the 11-plus entry test because adjustments required for him to take the exam, included the use of larger type on the exam questions, were not carried out. 

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has backed the boy’s case who detailed their concern around the accessibility of school exams for several years.

“We have been concerned about the accessibility of 11-plus tests for children with vision impairment for a number of years,” details Caireen Sutherland, the RNIB’s principal education officer.

“Every year we receive inquiries from parents and professionals regarding the process of testing for grammar schools and how to ensure the tests are accessible.”

DISCRIMINATION

The RNIB referred the boy’s case to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which supported a legal challenge at the government’s tribunal on special educational needs and disabilities. 

“It is completely unacceptable that, at a crucial and formative time in a child’s educational life, they should experience discrimination in a way that could damage their confidence and be denied the opportunity of a better future,” Rebecca Hilsenrath, the EHRC’s chief executive, says.

The ruling found that Reading School was responsible for ensuring their exams can be accessed by disabled applicants. 

INCLUSIVE

Rebecca continues: “Every child has the right to achieve their full potential. Grammar school education needs to be available to all children and that means grammar schools making reasonable adjustments for entry exams in accordance with the law.

“The Disability Discrimination Act is 25 years old and the Equality Act over a decade. 

“It is the law that disabled children are entitled to equal access to education, and in 2020 we shouldn’t have to be reminding schools of their responsibility to make exams inclusive.”

It is evident more needs to be carried out to ensure accessibility and inclusion is available across the board – especially when it comes to education.

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