Staff in mainstream schools and colleges need
training in how to deal with disabled students if they are to treat
them without discrimination, says the National Union of Teachers in
Further and High Education (Natfhe).
Speaking at the first national Disability
Rights Commission conference in London, Natfhe vice-president
Gerard Kelly said: “It is crucial that staff should be trained, and
the training should be funded by government, made compulsory and be
available during working hours so all staff can attend.”
It would be a vital addition to the Special
Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, which comes into effect
in September next year, he said.
The wide-ranging legislation, which aims for
the first time to give disabled students rights within the
mainstream education system, affects local education authorities,
schools, youth services and post-16 education.
It is hoped it will tackle the low educational
attainment of disabled people, who are twice as likely as
non-disabled people to have no qualifications.
Education and Skills secretary Estelle Morris
told delegates that the needs of disabled students had for too long
been treated as a “bolt-on” to mainstream services.