The Equality Act 2010
The following pages have been designed to explain to schools what they need to do to meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. The Act brings together a whole range of equality laws under one Act, some of which schools will already be familiar with
and others that will be new. This is explained under the Legal Framework below.
The DfE has produced on its website an
Equality Analysis Workbook to help schools with planning and recording. It will help schools to keep a record of their thinking, and of their decisions.
The Diversity and Cohesion Service have adapted Northampton’s workbook for Bradford Schools to assist in assembling evidence in order to meet the requirements of the General and Specific Duties in relation the Public Sector Equality Duty. This can be accessed here: Bradford
Equality Policy and Schemes
The Equality Act 2010 provides a single legal framework to provide a more effective means of tackling disadvantage and discrimination. It harmonises previous equality legislation much of what is required by schools is already being carried out by them.
It no longer requires schools to provide separate Disability, Gender and Race Equality Schemes. However it would be good practice (and evidence of compliance with the Act) for schools to have a policy statement outlining its principles showing how its policies
and practice impact on equalities. A number of Children's and Young People Services from different local authorities have developed a model school policy statement
which has been published on the Insted website which is very informative and useful for schools to adapt for their own use.
The Equality Act 2010 introduced a single Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) (sometimes also referred to as the ‘general duty’) that applies to public bodies, including maintained schools and academies (including Free Schools), and which extends to all protected
characteristics - race, disability, sex, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment. This combined equality duty came into effect in April 2011. It has three main elements. In carrying out their functions,
public bodies are required to have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate discrimination and other conduct that is prohibited by the Act,
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it,
- foster good relations across all characteristics - between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
Specific duties are meant to help public bodies fulfil their obligations under the PSED. They are designed to be light-touch and proportionate. The emphasis is on transparency - making information available so that the local community can see how, and
through what key objectives, the public body is advancing equality in line with the PSED.
The specific duties regulations require public bodies to:
- publish information to demonstrate how they are complying with the Public Sector Equality Duty, and
- prepare and publish equality objectives.
Public bodies have until the end of January 2012 (schools have until 6 April) to publish their initial information and until 6 April to publish their first set of objectives. They will then need to update the published information at least annually and
to publish objectives at least once every four years.
A summary of the principal implications for schools was updated by the Department for Education in February 2013 called
Advice for Schools Leaders, School Staff, Governing Bodies and Local Authorities
Ofsted Inspection Framework
Ofsted is bound by the public sector equality duty, its strategic plan and values to advance equality through its inspection of schools. Equality is integral to the inspection framework and the promotion of equality of opportunity for all pupils underpins
the school inspection framework. School inspection acts in the interests of children, young people and their parents. It encourages high-quality provision that meets diverse needs and promotes not just equality of opportunity but improving outcomes for all
pupils regardless of background.
There are two kinds of duty that schools must meet: the general which is the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and the specific. To fulfil the general requirement, the DfE guidance states that:
- decision makers in schools must be aware of the duty to have “due regard” when making a decision or taking an action and must assess whether it may have implications for people with particular protected characteristics
- schools should consider equality implications before and at the time that they develop policy and take decisions, not as an afterthought, and they need to keep them under review on a continuing basis
- the PSED has to be integrated into the carrying out of the school’s functions and the analysis necessary to comply with the duty has to be carried out seriously, rigorously and with an open mind – it is not just a question of ticking boxes or following
a particular process
- schools cannot delegate responsibility for carrying out the duty to anyone else.
There are six principles which Ofsted refer to called the Brown Principles, established by case law that underpin what due regard means: awareness, timeliness, rigour, non-delegation, continuous, and record-keeping:
- awareness – all staff should know and understand what the law requires
- timeliness – the implications for equalities of new policies and practices should be considered before they are introduced
- rigour – there should be rigorous and open-minded analysis of statistical evidence, and careful attention to the views of staff, and the views of pupils and their parents
- non-delegation – compliance with the PSED cannot be delegated
- continuous – due regard for equalities should be happening all the time
- record-keeping – it is good practice to keep documentary records, for example in the minutes of staff meetings and governor meetings.
Further information can be accessed through the Ofsted's Briefing on section 5 inspections -
We are interested to hear from Headteachers and School Leadership Teams if it would be useful to organise a CPD session on developing policy and practice focusing on equality information and objectives. Please note there may be a charge for this.
For support in school with the new requirements of the framework, please contact Alina Khan
T: 01274 439384
Further useful Web links
- Insted: A Folder of Resources for Schools
- What equality law means to you as an education provider: schools
- Equality information and the equality duty: A guide for public authorities
- Objectives and the equality duty: A guide for public authorities
- Engagement and the equality duty: A guide for public authorities
- Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Government Equalities Office
- Government guidelines for releasing data