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Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 21:



(a) it is made by that person's parent; or
(b) it is made by that person himself and the responsible body reasonably believes that he has sufficient understanding of the nature of the request and of its effect.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 14 [Accessibility strategies and plans]:

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 22:


    Page 12, leave out lines 16 to 25 and insert ("must prepare, in relation to schools for which they are the responsible body--


(a) an accessibility strategy;
(b) further such strategies at such times as may be prescribed.
( ) An accessibility strategy is a strategy for, over a prescribed period--
(a) increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the schools' curriculums;
(b) improving the physical environment of the schools for the purpose of increasing the extent to which disabled pupils are able to take advantage of education and associated services provided or offered by the schools; and
(c) improving the delivery to disabled pupils--
(i) within a reasonable time, and
(ii) in ways which are determined after taking account of their disabilities and any preferences expressed by them or their parents,
of information which is provided in writing for pupils who are not disabled.
( ) An accessibility strategy must be in writing.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment and those grouped with it are largely technical, with the exception of Amendments Nos. 22 and 24, which fulfil commitments that we made on Report to extend the planning duty.

Amendments Nos. 22 and 24 will widen the planning duty and help to meet the needs of all disabled children. The planning duty will now have three elements. First, LEAs and schools will have to plan to increase the extent to which disabled pupils can

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participate in the curriculum. That will go beyond teaching and learning arrangements to include classroom organisation, timetabling and staff training. That is our response to the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rix, on Report. I understand that unfortunately he cannot be here today, but he has let my noble friend know that he is more than happy with the amendments.

Secondly, LEAs and schools will have to plan to improve the physical environment of the school for the purpose of increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can take advantage of education and associated services that are provided or offered by the school. I have already explained that that duty involves much more than providing ramps and lifts.

Thirdly, and in response to amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, and the noble Lord, Lord Ashley of Stoke, on Report, LEAs and schools will have to plan to improve the extent to which disabled pupils receive written information in an accessible way. Some noble Lords had concerns about the extension of the planning duty in that way. Let me make it clear that the new planning duty will not be burdensome. It reflects best practice on the part of some schools. For individual children who have statements of SEN, LEAs will have to arrange provision to meet their special educational needs. Under the reasonable adjustments duty, LEAs and schools will be required to think about the needs of individual disabled children. The planning duty will ensure that LEAs and schools take a strategic look at their provision for disabled pupils in general and will also cover matters which are not covered by the reasonable adjustments duty. We will produce guidance that will explain further what we expect LEAs and schools to do.

Amendments Nos. 29, 30 and 31 are in response to an amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, on Report. They relate to the enforcement of the planning duty by the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales. They will remove unnecessary references to "powers" in proposed new Section 28M(1) and (4).

Amendment No. 32 is simply a technical amendment to Clause 25; it relates to the "Interpretation of Chapter I". It provides a definition of the term "parent" in Scotland, to mirror that which is already provided for England and Wales. I beg to move.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I find this situation rather strange. A strategy is normally a plan for fighting a battle but the word is being used differently in this context. Amendment No. 22 uses the phrase, "an accessibility strategy", which one would expect, on first sight, to be a method of approaching a particular building or place. However, the amendment goes on to state:


    "An accessibility strategy is a strategy for, over a prescribed period ... increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the schools' curriculums"--

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and in other matters involving education. It goes on to state that such a strategy is for,


    "improving the delivery to disabled pupils ... of information which is provided in writing for pupils who are not disabled ... An accessibility strategy must be in writing".

That is fair enough.

I find this very unusual. I wonder if the noble Lord could tell us whether there is a precedent for using the concept of strategies that can be found in other statutes.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth: I thank the Minister most warmly for Amendments Nos. 22 and 24 responding to an amendment moved and withdrawn by my noble friend Lord Rix in Committee and on Report. My noble friend is in Morocco and he trailed me as a most elegant and effective understudy at column 765 on 20th February--I am not sure that your Lordships are getting that. He also said that I would graciously accept the amendment as proffered by the Government. I am delighted to do so.

I can say that the Special Educational Consortium warmly welcomes the fact that the planning duty has now been widened to cover planning for access to the curriculum, to the physical environment and for access to information. This will benefit schools and LEAs by consolidating and building upon existing requirements, notably the inclusion statement in the national curriculum. The re-drafting of the clause by the Government creates a positive new emphasis placing a primary focus on access to the curriculum. I hope that the guidance will explain that this might include changes to teaching and learning arrangements, pupil groupings, arrangements for classroom support, curriculum organisation and adaptation, timetabling, staff training, school organisations and materials. This will allow LEAs and schools to plan to welcome children with a diverse range of disabilities. We also recognise the fact that there is significant funding via the Standards Fund and the Schools Access Initiative to support schools in welcoming young people with disabilities.

I pay tribute to the persistence of my noble friend and thank the noble Baroness, the noble Lord, Lord Davies, and the Minister in another place for having listened and reacted so positively to these extremely useful and welcome amendments.

Baroness Wilkins: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the Minister for the Government's amendment to Clause 14. The inclusion of provision for accessibility strategies and plans to include improvement of the delivery of information in alternative formats to disabled children within a reasonable time and taking into account their preferences is extremely welcome. It will achieve everything that the RNIB had hoped the accessible information policies would do.

The combination of physical access, curriculum access in the widest sense and explicit reference to accessible information is a major step forward. Indirectly, the duties to plan to improve accessible

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information for children will mean LEAs and schools are in a better position to meet the needs of parents for accessible information.

I am grateful to the Government for this amendment that will help thousands of visually impaired and other print-impaired children. It will be a great support to teachers.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, we endorsed both sets of amendments in Committee and at Report stage. I add my thanks to the Minister for responding so ably to them.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, when the noble Lord, Lord Rix, and I were discussing our respective amendments before Report stage I told him that he would be lucky; that the Government would never go that far. The Government have gone further. I am delighted. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Rix, on his achievement. I am thankful for the small changes the Government have made at my prompting.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, there is never un-hallowed joy, is there? I delight in the commendations from the House for the amendments we have brought forward. I am utterly and totally stumped by the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, as to whether the word "strategy" appears in any other statute. I do not know the answer. I shall write to the noble Lord if our researches prove positive. I assure him--and he will have heard from noble Lords who have contributed to our intensive debates over a substantial period of time--that the amendments I propose are in response to widespread needs outside, well articulated at various stages of the Bill. We are responding to those needs and expressions of opinion.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 23:


    Page 12, line 25, at end insert--


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