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Department for Education: Disability

Question for Department for Education

UIN 114838, tabled on 31 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to Part One of the National Disability Strategy, published July 2021, what recent steps his Department has taken to (a) encourage and support workplace disability networks, (b) achieve and maintain the highest level of Disability Confident accreditation, (c) ensure responsive and timely support to meet workplace adjustment needs and (d) develop and embed flexible working.

Answered on

8 February 2022

In the July 2021 National Disability Strategy, we set out our vision of how to improve the everyday lives of disabled people. One element of this was a series of commitments to support disabled civil servants to thrive at work.

The department previously launched a disability and neurodivergence action plan in July 2020. This action plan included a focus on supporting staff networks, ensuring equal access to the workplace through workplace adjustments and reviewing the flexible working policy.

With regard to the steps taken on the National Disability Strategy commitments:

  • The department has a number of staff networks relating to disability, these include the department’s Disability Group, Neurodivergence Network and the Working through Cancer Network. These networks are run by volunteers with support from HR. Additionally, to encourage inclusive behaviour and change perceptions on disability, volunteers have delivered a department-wide disability and neurodivergence confidence upskilling offer in 2021.
  • The department was awarded Disability Confident Level 3 Accreditation status in June 2021 with positive feedback. The department achieved this by reaching the criteria on challenge, leadership and reporting, and we will maintain it through our work in the disability and neurodivergence action plan and commitments in the National Disability Strategy.
  • HR guidance is available to managers with advice on the responsibility of the line manager and step by step processes for implementing a workplace adjustment. In addition, HR provides access to a specialist team to support line managers and staff in need of more complex adjustments. To ensure we carry on offering responsive and timely support, we are engaging with stakeholders on how to improve the service.
  • The department has consulted on, developed and embedded flexible working options as reasonable adjustments for disabled staff and remains committed to reviewing its practices and offerings on an on-going basis.