Explore the history of disabled people and education through time

  • Children and Families Act

    The Children and Families Act  became law on the 13th March 2014 and will come into force on the 1st  September 2014.

  • Equality Act

    The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it’s unlawful to treat someone.


  • UNCRPD Ratified by UK

    2009 – UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) Ratified by UK Government – 1 Reservation & 1 Interpretive Declaration against Article 24: Inclusive Education.

  • Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act

    Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 – created statutory framework for apprenticeships.

  • We Know Inclusion Works

    2008 ALLFIE ‘We Know Inclusion Works’ March to the Department for Children Schools and Families – led to a reaffirmation of the Labour Government’s commitment to inclusive education.

  • Disability Amendment Act

    Disability Amendment Act 2005 – introduced a duty on the public sector to promote disability equality.

  • Snapshots of Possibility

    2004 – ALLFIE publishes ‘Snapshots of Possibility’ research showing real examples of inclusive education practice in 21 schools.

  • Children Act

    Children Act 2004 – Based on the 2003 Green Paper ‘Every Child Matters’.

  • BSL Becomes Official

    2003 – British Sign Language (BSL) is recognised as an official British language but is not given legal protection.


    Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001 – extended disability discrimination legislation to schools, colleges and universities and gave disabled children many more rights in mainstream education.

  • Carers and Disabled Children Act

    The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 – Local Authorities are able to provide direct payments to young disabled people aged 16 and 17 years and to the parents of disabled children.

  • DAN – ‘Free Our People’

    1999 – Disabled People’s ‘Direct Action Network’ (DAN) launches its “Free Our People” campaign.

  • Green Paper ‘Excellence for all’

    Green Paper ‘Excellence for all Children – Meeting Special Educational Needs’ 1997 – set out five year plan.

  • The Disability Discrimination Act

    The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 – made discrimination against disabled people illegal and was an important step forward in the campaign for full civil rights for all disabled people.

  • Salamanca Statement

    In June 1994 representatives of 92 governments and 25 international organisations formed the World Conference on Special Needs Education, held in Salamanca, Spain. They agreed a dynamic new Statement on the education of all disabled children, which called for inclusion to be the norm. In addition, the Conference adopted a new Framework for Action, the guiding principle of which is that ordinary schools should accommodate all children, regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. All educational policies, says the Framework, should stipulate that disabled children attend the neighbourhood school ‘that would be attended if the child
    did not have a disability.’

  • Nadia Clarke & Samantha Jones

  • ALLFIE begins

    1990 – The Alliance for Inclusive Education begins life as the ‘Integration Alliance’.

  • Isobel Williams & Miro Griffiths

  • Paul Harrison, Sebastian Bianco Lynn, Zara Todd

  • The Disabled Persons Act

    The Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 – this Act gave disabled people greater control over services provided to them by local government bodies.

  • Joanne Wacha, Maresa MacKeith

  • The Education Act

    1981 The Education Act – paved the way for the integration of children with ‘special needs’ during the United Nations International Year of Disabled People. Education Act 1981 (following the 1978 Warnock Report): gave parents new rights in relation to special needs.

  • International Year of the Disabled

    International Year of the Disabled 1981 – An international conference in this year, which attempted to exclude disabled people from its discussion, led to the setting up of the first global network of disabled people known as ‘Disabled Peoples International’ with a slogan “Nothing About Us Without Us”.

  • BCODP begins

    1981 – British Council of Disabled People’s Organisations is founded as an umbrella group of organisations run and controlled by disabled people.

  • Warnock Report

    1978 Warnock Report – ‘Special Educational Needs  –Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People’

  • Ajay Yadav

  • UPIAS is formed

    1975 the Union of the Physicially Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) is formed. It argues that a world constructed only for non-disabled people will inevitably exclude disabled people.

  • Michelle Daley

  • Disability Movement is Born

    1972 Paul Hunt’s letter is published in the Guardian newspaper calling for equality for disabled people and asking others to join him. His letter inspires the start of the struggle against discrimination.

  • David Filmer, Haq Ismail, Mark Lynes

  • The Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act

    The Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act 1970 – required local authorities to improve services for disabled people.

  • Education (Handicapped Children) Act

    Education (Handicapped Children) Act 1970 – transferred responsibility for education of ‘severely handicapped children’ from health authorities to LEAs.

  • Elliot Reed, Helen Cooke, Simone Aspis

  • Children and Young Persons Act

    Children and Young Persons Act 1969 – gave LEAs responsibilities for children not receiving education or in need of care and control.

  • Debbie Robertson, Tara Flood

  • Paul Hunt and Peter Wade publish ‘Stigma’

    1966 Paul Hunt and Peter Wade publish ‘Stigma’ describing many of the ways in which society oppresses disabled people.

  • Clenton Farquarson, Raymond Johnson

  • Angela Smith, Jamie Renton, Lynda Hesketh

  • Education Act

    Education Act 1962 – required LEAs to provide students with grants for living costs and tuition fees; placed legal obligation on parents to ensure that children received a suitable education at school or otherwise – failure to comply could result in prosecution; made LEAs legally responsible for ensuring that pupils attended school.

  • Education Act

    Education Act 1962: required LEAs to provide students with grants for living costs and tuition fees; placed legal obligation on parents to ensure that children received a suitable education at school or otherwise – failure to comply could result in prosecution; made LEAs legally responsible for ensuring that pupils attended school.

  • Education Act

    1960 – The Education Act creates 11 categories of impairment. Thousands of disabled children are sent to segregated ‘Junior Training Centres’ and institutions.

  • Alice, Jane Campbell, Phillip Wyatt

  • Christine O’Mahony, David Webb, Gordon Richardson

  • Deborah Sowerby, Micheline Mason, Roger Crosskey

  • Belinda Shaw, Richard Rieser, Sue Bush

  • Education Act

    1944 Education Act – introduced selection by disability with disabled children sent to 11 types of special school depending on their impairment.

  • Ann Torode & John Brown

  • Anthea Penfold, Mavis Parris

  • Jack Baxter, Ray Kathleen D’Arcy, Ronald Leedham

  • Education Act

    The Education Act provides for ‘handicapped’ children to be educated but only in special schools or classes

  • Education Act

    Education Act 1918 – Wide-ranging Act extending education provision in line with recommendations of 1917 Lewis Report.

  • Mental Deficiency Act

    1913 Mental Deficiency Act required school boards to identify children who were ‘defective’ and send them to live in institutions.

  • Esther Annenberg

  • Education Act

    Education Act 1902: the Balfour Act established a system of secondary education integrating higher grade elementary schools and fee-paying secondary schools; abolished school boards and established local education authorities (LEAs).