Planning improvements for disabled pupils' access to education: guidance for education authorities, independent and grant-aided schools

Guidance to support responsible bodies in the development and maintenance of accessibility strategies.

Chapter 2: Introduction to the Act

1. This Chapter provides an overview of the requirements of the Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils' Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 (the Act).

2. There is a legal requirement under the Act for education authorities, and those responsible for independent and grant-aided schools (the responsible bodies under the Act) to prepare and implement an accessibility strategy for all the schools for which they are responsible. [8]


3. When preparing their accessibility strategies education authorities are required by the Act to include school education that they provide outwith schools to disabled children who are:

  • under school age; or
  • to those who are of school age and are travelling people.


4. The Act defines travelling people as 'persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin". This therefore may include those receiving education on Gypsy/Traveller sites or from families who are Showmen.

Responsible bodies

5. Responsible bodies are:

  • in relation to schools managed by an education authority, that authority (an "education authority" is a local authority); and
  • s6

  • in relation to independent and grant-aided schools, the proprietors or the managers, respectively.

Reviewing strategies

6. Strategies should be kept under review and if necessary revised during the period to which they refer. In carrying out a review or revision of their accessibility strategy responsible bodies need to have regard to any guidance on these matters issued by the Scottish Ministers. Responsible bodies have a statutory duty under the Act to implement any strategies that have been prepared.

s1(4) and (5) s3(3)

Preparing strategies

7. Responsible bodies are required to consider the need to allocate adequate resources for implementing the strategy. For example, where the strategy has financial implications, perhaps to improve the physical accessibility of school buildings, then these should be costed. Or, where the strategy requires, for example staff to undertake, continuing professional development, the resources required to provide that should be determined.


8. Responsible bodies are required to consult with children, parents and young people as they think necessary when preparing their accessibility strategy. References to young people are to those over school age but who have not yet attained the age of eighteen. Responsible bodies should consult with disabled children and young people and their parents as well as with children and young people who are not disabled and their parents.

s3(1)( b)

9. In preparing an accessibility strategy responsible bodies are obliged to have regard to this guidance in respect of the content of the accessibility strategy, the form in which it is to be produced and the persons to be consulted in its preparation. On this last point while responsible bodies have some discretion regarding whom they consult, as indicated in Chapter 2, paragraph 7 above, they have to have regard to this guidance during the preparation of the accessibility strategy.

s3(1) (c) and (2)

Intervals at which strategies must be prepared

10. The first accessibility strategies were required to be prepared by 1 April 2003, as set out in Regulations [9] , for a period of up to three years. Thereafter, responsible bodies were required to prepare accessibility strategies by a date not more than three years from the completion of the first strategy. Strategies have to cover a period of three years.

11. For example, a responsible body which prepared its strategy on 1 April 2003 to last for a period of 2 years would then have its second strategy in place from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2008 with its third strategy commencing on 1 April 2008 and completing on 31 March 2011 and so on.

Making strategies available

12. The first strategies produced by 1 April 2003 were made available to Scottish Ministers and in December 2003 Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education ( HMIE) and the Disability Rights Commission ( DRC) published a report evaluating the progress made in preparing strategies and highlighting good practice. [10]

13. The Scottish Ministers may at any time require responsible bodies to provide them with a copy of their revised accessibility strategy.

s3(4) (b)

14. Responsible bodies are required to make a copy of their accessibility strategy available for inspection at reasonable times of their own choosing. They must also make the strategy available in an alternative form if asked for this. Regulations define [11] possible alternative forms to include:


  • orally;
  • on audio tape;
  • through sign language or lip speaking; or
  • on video tape (using signing and/or lip speaking);
  • in Braille;
  • in large print;
  • on CD Rom or other means of electronic communication.

15. Responsible bodies may wish to publish their Accessibility Strategies alongside other strategies and plans in accordance with their own arrangements for publication of policy and guidance, for example on their websites.

Purpose of accessibility strategies

16. Accessibility strategies are considered in detail in Chapter 3 but, in summary, their purpose is, over time (each 3 year period), to:

  • increase disabled pupils' participation in the curriculum;
  • s1(2)

  • improve the physical environment of the school, or schools, to enable better access to education and associated services provided; and
  • improve communication with disabled pupils. In particular, relating to the provision of information in appropriate alternative formats and taking account of any preferences expressed by them or their parents, that would be provided in writing to pupils who do not have a disability.

17. These are referred to as the three planning duties and are considered in detail in Chapter 3. In the case of those who are under school age, or those who are of school age and being educated on Gypsy/Traveller sites, the planning duties above refer to school education, rather than curriculum, in the first planning duty and to place, or places, rather than school, or schools, in the second planning duty.



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