Staff need training to avoid discrimination against pupils with learning difficulties or physical disability

Staff in mainstream schools and colleges need training in how to
deal with students with a learning difficulty or physical
disability if they are to treat them without discrimination,
according to one of the teaching unions, writes Sally

Gerard Kelly, vice-president of the National Union of Teachers
in Further and High Education, said: “It is crucial that staff
should be trained, and the training should be funded by government,
compulsory and available during working hours so all staff can

It would be a vital addition to the Special Educational Needs
and Disability Act, which comes into effect in September next year,
he told the first national Disability Rights Commission conference
in London.

The wide-ranging legislation, which aims for the first time to
give students with a physical disability or learning difficulty
rights within the mainstream education system, affects local
education authorities, schools, youth services and post-16
education providers.

It is hoped it will tackle the low educational attainment of
disabled people or those with learning difficulties, who are twice
as likely to have no qualifications.

Estelle Morris, secretary of state for education and skills,
told delegates that the needs of disabled students and those with
learning difficulties had for too long been treated as a “bolt-on”
to mainstream services.

In a survey of 2,000 people aged 15 and over in the UK, unveiled
at the conference, nearly two thirds were in favour of disabled and
non-disabled people being educated in the same schools. But half
believed disabled children should only be taught in special schools
because they would not get the support they need in a mainstream

Morris said the government would provide £220 million over
the next three years to improve access to schools, and £172
million from 2002-2005 to support improvements to access in post-16

The Disability Rights Commission also launched its Educating for
Equality campaign, which will lead to codes of practice and
guidance for schools and colleges on how to implement the act.















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