This Legal Question was posed by ALLFIE’s Simone Aspis. It was answered by Lydia Neill, Paralegal in the Public Law Team, and Sarah Woosey, Partner, Education & Community Care Solicitor, at Simpson Millar Solicitors.
“I am a Disabled student and have Dyslexia. My educational qualifications include a Bachelor’s Degree in History and GCSE Grades G in English and B in Maths. I failed to pass my level 2 functional skills in English on several occasions. I want to become a History secondary school teacher with Qualified Teacher status (QTS), so I have the opportunity to teach in both maintained and academy schools. The Initial Teaching Training (ITT) Provider rejected my application because I have not fulfilled the Literacy and Numeracy requirements. What are my options for legal challenge?”
The Initial Teaching Training (ITT) provider can legally refuse applications if the applicant does not fulfil the entry requirements for the given course. This is because they are entitled to require specific qualifications to ensure applicants meet the minimum standard of subject knowledge and educational attainment. On the limited information provided, it does not appear that ITT has acted unlawfully in refusing your application because you do not fulfil the Literacy and Numeracy requirements.
It is, however, important to highlight that as a Disabled pupil, you could, and possibly should, have been granted access arrangements or reasonable adjustments when completing your GCSE and Functional Skills qualifications. Schools and colleges must comply with the Equality Act 2010 which includes a duty to make reasonable adjustments for Disabled pupils. If adjustments were appropriate in your circumstances, then your school or college could have made a request to the relevant examination board to grant specific access arrangements for your exams. This support would aim to ensure that you did not face an unfair disadvantage compared to your non-Disabled peers. For example providing you with additional time to sit the exam, or allowing you use of a laptop to write your answers. The reasonable adjustments required as a Disabled student should have been implemented previously to support you to achieve your current qualifications. If your school or college refused to make an application, or you faced a detriment because of your disability compared to your non-Disabled peers, then it may have been possible to bring a disability discrimination claim. It is not possible to advise whether this would have been successful without knowing your specific circumstance, but unfortunately any claim should have been brought within 6 months of the incident in question.
Whilst it may be disappointing, if you do intend to re-take your English qualifications again, then you should make sure you are adequately supported in line with your impairment. If you do take this route, and are refused reasonable adjustments then you can seek legal advice on your individual circumstances. It is important to remember that up to date advice on your specific circumstances will always be beneficial.