Protecting a toddler's right to education

Case name: X and Y v Nursery

Following concerns raised by parents of a two-year-old that a nursery had not made reasonable adjustments for their disabled child, we provided legal assistance so the parents could challenge the nursery's actions.

Legal issue

Had a private nursery failed to make reasonable adjustments and terminated autistic child’s placement on the basis of the parents’ feedback to Ofsted and if so, are parents able to access justice?

Background

A disabled child's parents provided feedback to Ofsted about concerns they had with a private nursery.

After this, the nursery terminated their child's placement there.

Why we were involved

This case relates to our strategic objective to reduce discriminatory exclusions for children with special educational needs.

We were concerned that, because a private nursery is not defined as a school (as a state-run nursery would be) the child was not directly protected under the 'victimisation' provisions in the Equality Act 2010

The family also had to bring the legal challenge under the Service provisions of the Act, which meant the case would be heard at the County Court rather than the more accessible Specialist Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

What we did

We provided legal assistance to challenge the discriminatory exclusion and alleged victimisation of the child. 

What happened

At the time this case (2020) a private nursery was not defined as a ‘school’ under Part 6 (education) of the Equality Act 2010, and so the child was not directly protected from the victimisation provisions, which he would have been if he’d attended a State funded nursery.

The case was settled during mediation, and the nursery's duty to provide reasonable adjustments was upheld.

Who will benefit and how

This case highlighted the importance of service providers, including private nurseries, being fully aware of their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

Specifically, it emphasised the importance of children receiving the support they need from an early age so then can then benefit from integrating them to mainstream school and improving their life chances.

Every child has the right to an education; we are committed to ensuring the education system promotes good relations with others and respect for equality and human rights standards. 

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