The Equality Duty for Schools
There can be no fair society if age, disability, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment remain as markers of disadvantage; and there can be no lasting or deep-rooted progress for disadvantaged groups unless we make a robust case for fairness which involves everyone. (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2012.)
Public Sector Equality Duty
The Equality Act 2010 contains a general duty known as the public sector equality duty (PSED). Since 5 April 2011, public sector organisations (including maintained schools and Academies) must comply with a key aspect of the Equality Act 2010, which requires schools to have due regard to the need to:
Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Act; by removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristic;
Advance equality of opportunity between different groups/people, who share a relevant protected characteristic and groups/people who do not; by taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people;
Foster good relations between different groups/people who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it; by encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
Having due regard involves thinking consciously about how the schools existing and proposed policies and decisions impact on equality.
Specific Statutory Duties
The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 requires schools to comply with two specific duties, which are intended to help them comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty. These are:
- Publication of information Since 6 April 2012 - every school has had to publish information to show that it is complying with the duty and at least on an annual basis after that.
- Equality objectives Schools must prepare and publish one or more objectives which further the three aims of the equality duty. Any objective must be specific and measurable.
- Cheshire East Council has produced further information in the form of One Minute Guides, around the Public Sector Equality Duty specific to schools.