Coronavirus | Disabled Peoples Education

ALLFIE Briefing March | UK Coronavirus Bill, what action ALLFIE is taking and what you can do.

 This briefing addresses concerns the UK Government is trying to suspend rights for Disabled people in education amidst Coronavirus outbreak and covers:

  1. UK Coronavirus Bill
  2. What ALLFIE is doing
  3. What you can do
  4. Coronavirus resources

1. UK Coronavirus Bill

The Government wants to suspend various rights Disabled people have under current legislation. ALLFIE is very concerned that Disabled people’s rights to be supported within mainstream education will be suspended for up to two years under the Coronavirus Bill.

Read ALLFIE’s briefing on the Coronavirus Bill Debate 23 March 2020

The Bill suspends various duty in the Care Act 2014, including the duty to meet the eligible needs of disabled people and their carers. Under the #CoronaVirusBill, local authorities will only have to provide care ‘if they consider it necessary’ for the purposes of avoiding a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).  There is no human right to social care or positive obligation under the ECHR to meet care needs.

  • The Secretary of State for Education will have powers to amend the 2014 ACT so there is no longer a requirement to name a school in the child’s Education & Health Care Plan (EHCP).
  • The Secretary of State will have powers to amend the Act so that a local authority only have to use reasonable endeavour in discharging its duty in securing SEND provision for disabled pupils. This will mean that local authorities will not have an absolute duty to arrange SEND provision for disabled pupils.
  • The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will have the powers to amend Sections 18 and 20 of the Care Act so local authorities will no longer be required to meet the eligible needs of disabled adults and carers.
  • The Secretary of State will have the powers to close state-funded schools.

We are very concerned that there is a real possibility that:

  • Disabled children with EHCP support could have that support withdrawn, reduced, removed or not replaced if current staff is needed elsewhere by NHSE or even special schools
  • Disabled children with EHCP could be transferred into special schools so that SEND provision can be pooled as fewer schools are open. Local authorities and schools will not have the funding to pay for additional staff if existing staff are in self-isolation or ill
  • Disabled children with EHCP could be left without a school placement, particularly a mainstream school placement.
  • Disabled young people may not get the education, health and care support they require to flourish in mainstream education. The threshold will be lowered so that disabled people will only get support to meet the basic needs of being dressed, fed and showered.
  • If these changes to the Care Act go through disabled children and people in education may not get the support they require because education is unlikely to be considered a basic need to aid survival.

It is totally unacceptable that the rights of Disabled people, the only group of people with protected characteristic rights under the Equality Act, will be suspended.  For many Disabled pupils and students the education, health and care provision required is necessary to support both their emotional and physical wellbeing. Many of the health and social care practitioners are undertaking tasks that will help to maintain stable health, including reducing the risk of developing infections and viruses.

The education and care provisions in the Coronavirus Bill are an attack on Disabled people’s human rights to education, health and care.

2. What is ALLFIE doing?

ALLFIE is reacting to education provisions for UK Disabled people in the fast moving Coronavirus Bill.

  • We have published various blogs about the Government’s policy on school closures.
  • We have written a briefing for both MPs and the Joint Committee on Human Rights about our concerns that disabled people’s rights to be supported within mainstream education are being suspended.
  • We will be discussing amendments to the Bill with MPs and Peers.

3. What you can do

Call to action

4. Coronavirus Disability Resources

We will be adding to this list so please check back often

Steve Broach Public Law Barrister on the Coronavirus Bill’s implications for Disabled children

Marsha De Cordova MP | Letter to PM