The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families

  Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is about ensuring that disabled people can access education without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity. The UK Government is committed to continuing to develop an inclusive education system through each local authority to continue to develop a range of provision that enables all disabled children to achieve their potential. Working collaboratively with local authorities' support services and special schools, mainstream schools can ensure that the wide spectrum of need is met. However, our domestic legislation provides that where a decision is being made on a school placement for a child with a statement of special educational needs, s/he must be educated in a mainstream school unless that is incompatible with either the wishes of his/her parent, or the provision of efficient education for other children. We wish to continue to enable local authorities to take parental wishes into account, when determining school placements for children with statements of special educational need. Therefore, special schools remain an important part of local authorities' inclusive range of educational provision for disabled children, and we propose to take an interpretive declaration to Article 24 (2)(a) to clarify that the UK general education system includes both mainstream and special schools.

  Further, Article 24 (2)(b) seeks to ensure that all disabled people can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live. We are aware that some disabled children have their needs met by specialist provision, which can be some distance from their home and communities, particularly for children from rural areas. Additionally, there is a risk that parental choice could be limited if such non local opportunities were no longer available to disabled children and their families. Anne McGuire's statement of 6 May 2008 said that we would need a reservation in respect of such children. Following representations we are considering how these concerns should be expressed to best reflect the Government's commitment to inclusion of disabled people.

3 November 2008

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