‘Being Disabled in Britain: a Journey Less Equal’ - Concerns the Report Raises in relation to educational attainment.
There are concerns regarding disabled people in Britain today which are raised in the report ‘Being Disabled in Britain: a Journey Less Equal’. This article will focus on concerns in relation to educational attainment for children and young people, exclusions from schools, bullying in schools, young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) and educational qualifications for adults. These are all concerns on the subject of education.
Disabled people in Britain today are less equal, or experience more inequality, as my previous article has concluded. This article moves on from this and in doing so goes on to focus on some particularly pertinent concerns which the report has raised, specifically with respect to education.
This article will bear in mind that there are many factors affecting disabled people. What is going on behind the scenes? How do their disabilities contribute to their achievement levels? And how do their disabilities contribute to their achievement levels in relation to children who are not disabled?
The report is divided up into different sections which will be reflected in this article.
Educational attainment for children and young people
The report remarks that disproportionate numbers of children with SEND in England and Wales may be required to re-sit Year 7 Key Stage 2 tests. It notes that as statements of SEN and Education, Health and Care plans are only given to those with more serious need, there may be an issue about unmet need at lower levels of SEN. It also states that disabled 16-18 year olds are two times as likely to not be in education, employment or training.
The report documents how based on their primary need, all groups of children with SEN have significantly lower proportions achieving at least five A*- C GCSES, including English and mathematics, than non-disabled children in both 2009/10 and 2014/15.
Exclusions from schools
The report notes that The Joint Committee on Human Rights has expressed concerns about the UK developing an inclusive education system. Section 33 of the Education Act allows schools to say that to educate a child with disabilities or SEN would undermine the effective education of other children, and that this poses a barrier to a really inclusive educational system.
It goes on to discuss how the exclusion rate in 2014/2015 in England for children with SEN remained more than five times higher compared with children with no identified SEN.
The report observes that in England although the effect reduced slightly with age, having SEN increased the probability of exclusion for all age groups.
Bullying in schools
The report says that in Wales, compared with England, there is no general duty on the local authority to cooperate with different bodies to ensure the protection of physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing. The report makes mention of the fact that in Scotland there is no specific statutory duty to prevent, monitor, or proactively deal with bullying, although it can form part of the duty to offer additional support for learning and education authorities are subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty. It highlights the fact that the Scottish government acknowledged the inconsistency in the recording of incidents of bullying and the circumstances around them and committed to publishing an updated anti-bullying strategy.
Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)
The report goes on to declare that in Great Britain the proportion of disabled 16-18 year olds who were NEET (13.2%) was higher than for non-disabled 16-18 year olds who were NEET (5.8%). In England, the proportion of disabled 16 to 18 year olds who were NEET remained higher (12.6%) compared with non-disabled people (5.7%) in 2015/16. The report contains the evidence that in Scotland in 2015/16, a high percentage of those with mental health conditions were NEET (28.8%) compared with non-disabled people.
Educational qualifications for adults
A consideration of educational qualifications for adults can tie into and extend to a consideration of employment, as educational qualifications and employment are linked. The report states that responding to the planned changes, the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) expressed concern that the proposed changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance system could have a significant negative impact on how disabled people access, participate and succeed in higher education, so affecting their employment opportunities and economic productivity in England and Wales.
The report observes that Scotland’s youth employment strategy acknowledges that young disabled people are much more likely to experience difficult transitions through education and to be unemployed after they leave education. It states that in Great Britain, allowing for the combined effects of age, disability, ethnic group, gender, religion, socio-economic group, whether in a couple, and region, the proportion with no qualifications increased with age and was higher for disabled than for non-disabled people in all age groups.