The NASUWT believes that staff in schools, have a right to work in a safe and secure environment that is free from intimidation, harassment, abuse and fear, and where they feel valued and respected.

The NASUWT is committed to equality of opportunity for all and actively opposes all forms of unfair discrimination.

Many disabled people who can work and who want to work face barriers. They may have fewer opportunities to develop their skills and experience, face practical obstacles, such as inaccessible transport, and experience negative attitudes in the workplace.

NASUWT research shows that disabled teachers are more likely to be employed on lower pay, are more likely to be employed on short-term contracts and more likely to face discrimination at work than the generality of the teaching workforce.

However, schools/colleges can remove the barriers to the inclusion of disabled teachers by adopting workplace policies, practices and procedures that focus on what the disabled teacher can do, rather than on what they cannot do.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of what are called ‘protected characteristics’ in a wide variety of fields, including employment, education, the exercise of public functions, and the provision of services and associations.

In order to be protected by the Act, a person must be able to establish that any less favourable treatment or harassment is because of their or another person’s disability or because of a perceived disability.

Anyone who has a diagnosed physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities, is protected under the Act.

The Equality Act 2010 places on employers a duty to make reasonable adjustments for its disabled teachers.

Discrimination against a disabled person can occur where there is a failure to comply with a duty to make reasonable adjustments. The duty is comprised of three requirements:

  • Where a provision, criterion or practice puts disabled people at a substantial disadvantage compared with those who are not disabled, take reasonable steps to avoid that disadvantage.
  • Take reasonable steps to remove or alter a physical feature or provide a reasonable means of avoiding such a feature where it puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with those who are not disabled.
  • Take reasonable steps to provide an auxiliary aid where a disabled person would, but for the provision of that auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage compared with those who are not disabled.

Reasonable adjustments

Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs. This applies to all workers, including trainees, apprentices, contract workers and business partners.

Reasonable adjustments can include:

  • making physical changes to the workplace, like installing a ramp for a wheelchair user or an audio-visual fire alarm for a deaf person
  • letting a disabled person work somewhere else, such as on the ground floor for a wheelchair user
  • changing their equipment, for instance providing a special keyboard if they have arthritis
  • allowing employees who become disabled to make a phased return to work, including flexible hours or part-time working
  • offering employees training opportunities, recreation and refreshment facilities

Getting help at school or college

If you require further help and support, in addition to the reasonable adjustments already provided by your employer, Access to Work might pay for:

  • additional support in the classroom, e.g. a qualified person to undertake P.E. lessons or a technician to set up science experiments
  • specialist equipment or adaptations in the classroom
  • special equipment or software
  • hearing loop systems
  • a support worker
  • disability awareness training for your colleagues

Access to Work can also pay for assessments to see what you need at work.

You can apply for Access to Work up to six weeks before you start work.

Applicants may not get a grant if they already get certain benefits. Visit the Government's Access to Work website for further details.

What does Access to Work practically look like?

Support will be offered based on need. This may include a grant to help with costs.

The grant can help pay for items and services required to enable you to remain in work.

Online applications

To apply online, visit the Get Disability Work Support Service. You’ll need to provide:

  • your workplace address
  • the name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact - this should be the person who can authorise payment for the items and services you require

You will also be questioned on the following, so it advisable to consider the answers beforehand.

  • How your condition affects you at work
  • What help you are already getting
  • What else could help you

Telephone applications

Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

To apply you will need:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your workplace address
  • The name, email address and work phone number of a workplace contact (this should be the person who can authorise payment for the items and services you require)

NASUWT help, support and information for disabled teachers

For additional help and support with your application request:

England [email protected]
Northern Ireland [email protected]
Scotland [email protected]
Wales [email protected]