Not all children or young people (YP) with special educational needs will be disabled and not all disabled children or YP will have special educational needs, although the vast majority are likely to have both.

A child or YP is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities (section 6 of the Equality Act 2010). “Substantial” means more than minor or trivial and “long term” means lasting more than one year or likely to last more than one year.

When considering if someone may fall within the Act, think about:

  • Do they have a physical/mental impairment?
  • Has it lasted 12 months or is it likely to do so?
  • Does the impairment have, or has it had, a more than minor or trivial impact on their normal day-to-day activities?

Early years settings, schools, colleges and Local Authorities have legal duties to prevent unlawful discrimination. They must ensure that they do not treat children and YP with disabilities less favorably than others. They also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments – to change what they do or were proposing to do – to ensure a child or YP is not disadvantaged. This includes the provision of aids and services to support a child or YP.