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Education Law Case Study: Disability Discrimination and Equality Act

Education Law Case Study: Disability Discrimination and Equality Act

Who did we act for?

We acted for Zara from London, through her parents, in connection with an unfortunate incident when the school prevented Zara from sitting one of her three Maths GCSE exams.

What was the case about?

Zara suffered long standing health issues, namely dyspraxia and autism, which amounted to disabilities under the Equality Act 2010. She also suffered with a more recent illness which caused her significant fatigue.  At the request of Zara’s parents, the school had put in place some reasonable adjustments for Zara’s examinations, meaning that Zara was permitted to sit some of her written exams in the afternoons rather than the mornings.

On the specific day, Zara was due to sit her Maths GSCE paper in the afternoon, whilst her peers had sat the same exam that morning.  Through no fault of her own, whilst waiting to go into the exam hall, Zara came into contact with her peers, including her best friend whom she had not seen for a significant period of time due to her illness.  Instinctively, Zara embraced her best friend.

On account of that brief embrace the school determined that Zara may have obtained some of the answers to the Maths GCSE paper. The school decided she could not sit the exam, which was imminently due to start. Zara would, thereby, have received a zero grade for this exam, being the first of her three GSCE Maths papers.

Why the parents came to us?

Zara’s parents came to IBB as they were aware the firm had the necessary knowledge and experience to handle their daughter’s case. Our team of lawyers handle disability discrimination cases and Equality Act cases on a daily basis, so were aware of what action was required to present a case to the school.

What did we do?

On the day the parents contacted us, we arranged a 2 hour meeting, to listen to their account of events and review the documentation generated by their school’s decision.

We were concerned that some vital documents were missing and that the parents were entitled to further information held by the school. Therefore, we challenged the school and persuaded them that they must provide all documents relevant to their decision.  The school gave way and provided vital documents. On the back of this material, we crafted a detailed letter, arguing why the school’s decision to prevent Zara from sitting the exam, was a disproportionate response.

We argued that the school’s actions in making this immediate decision and failing to fully investigate, breached Zara’s legal rights and that the response by the school had been wholly disproportionate.

What was the outcome?

The school accepted IBB’s persuasive arguments and subsequently applied to the Exam Board. The Exam Board were convinced by our arguments and ultimately determined Zara’s GCSE grade in Maths should be based on the two remaining Maths GCSE examination papers.

As a consequence, Zara was able to move on to the Sixth Form school of her choice, with no impediment to her education. Her parents were delighted with the outcome.