School trips

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says nurseries and schools must:

ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN (5.6 and 6.2)

and a school SEN Information Report must include:

how children and young people with SEN are enabled to engage in activities available with children and young people in the school who do not have SEN (6.79)

Including children with SEN

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says schools and nurseries must…

ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN. (5.6 & 6.2)

Section 35 of the Children and Families Act 2014 says that schools and nurseries can only exclude a child from activities if:

  • it is not reasonably practicable for them to be included;
  • being included would prevent them from receiving the support they need; or
  • being included would prevent the efficient education of other children or the efficient use of resources.

Planning and assessing risk

Some routine visits involve no more risk, such as slips and trips and will be covered by a school’s current policies and procedures. They only need a little extra planning beyond the educational aspect of the trip. They can be considered as lessons in a different classroom.

Some trips will not be covered by existing policies and will need some extra planning due to the location or type of activity for example

Sometimes a school may just need to review its current plans or arrangements that were successful on previous trips. However, some trips will need risk assessments, detailed planning and informed approval of headteachers or governing boards.

Read the Department for Education guidance on educational visits

The Outdoor Education Advisory panel have some National guidance for schools around including children with SEND to go on educational visits:

OEP Educational visits inclusion guide(opens PDF).

Health and Safety Executive example educational risk assessments

For disabled children

Nurseries, schools and colleges must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make sure that disabled children and young people are not substantially disadvantaged compared to their peers.

The Equality Act 2010 (part 6 applies to education) sets out these duties.

Read our ‘Reasonable adjustments‘ section to find out more about ‘ What is a disability?’ and what the law says settings must do to prevent disabled children from being disadvantaged.

The Act does not override health and safety legislation. A school may carry out a risk assessment to ensure all pupils on the trip remain safe.

For children with medical conditions

The guidance ‘Supporting Pupils in Schools with medical conditions‘ says…

Pupils at school with medical conditions should be properly supported so that they have full access to education, including school trips and physical education. (key points)

Schools should consider what reasonable adjustments they might make to enable children with medical needs to participate fully and safely on visits. (24)

It is generally not acceptable practice to prevent children from participating, or create unnecessary barriers to children participating in any aspect of school life, including school trips, e.g. by requiring parents to accompany the child. (25)

What if my child with SEN or disability is being disadvantaged?

Talk to your child’s teacher or the SENCO, it can be helpful to request a meeting.

The Outdoor Education Advisory panel have some National guidance for schools when planning trips for children with SEND, which might be useful when preparing your questions and concerns: OEP Educational visits SEND Guide (opens PDF)

Ahead of this conversation, have a look at the school’s ‘SEN Information Report’ which will include information about how children in the school are enabled to take part in activities alongside children without SEN.

Start by explaining how you feel your child is missing out or will not be having the same experience as their classmates, for example if you have been asked to accompany them on a trip.

Find out why or how the school reached their decision. It might be that you have some suggestions for how your child could be supported.

If you still have some concerns you could raise these with the Head Teacher, or make a formal complaint to the school and Governing body. The schools own website will have information about their complaints procedure and you can also read our section ‘Raising concerns‘.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan, does the support need reviewing? Read more about  requesting an early review.

If you feel your disabled child has been discriminated against you could consider complaining to the SEND Tribunal.