What is the Equality Act 2010?

The Equality Act 2010 replaced nine major Acts of Parliament, as well as almost a hundred sets of regulations, dealing with equality and discrimination. The Act provides a single, consolidated source of discrimination law, covering all the types of discrimination that are unlawful. The new law should make it easier for school leaders and governors to understand their legal responsibilities and tackle inequalities in education. In England and Wales the Act applies to all maintained and independent schools, as well as academies and free schools. The Act covers all aspects of school life to do with how a school treats pupils and prospective pupils, parents and carers, employees, and members of the community. Everything a school does must be fair, non-discriminatory and not put individuals or groups of people at a disadvantage. In particular, a school must not discriminate, harass or victimise a pupil or potential pupil in relation to:

  • Admissions
  • The way it provides education for pupils
  • How it provides pupils access to any benefit, facility or service
  • Excluding a pupil or subjecting them to any other detriment

What actions and behaviours are unlawful under the Act?

The Act defines a number of types of unlawful behaviour, including:

  • Direct discrimination
  • Indirect discrimination
  • Failing to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils or staff
  • Discrimination arising from disability
  • Harassment related to a protected characteristic
  • Victimisation of someone because they have made, or helped with, a complaint about discrimination

Protected characteristics

The Act uses the term “protected characteristics” to refer to aspects of a person’s identity. Treating a person less favourably because they have one or more of these characteristics would be unlawful. The protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief Warwick Bridge Primary School Equality Duty Statement and Objectives March 2017
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.

As a school we are bound by a part of the equality act 2010 called the Public Sector Equality Duty. There are two parts to this duty: the general duty and the specific duty.

General duty – The general duty is the overarching legal requirement for schools and means they must consider how their policies, practices and day-to-day activities impact on pupils and staff. Schools are required to have “due regard” to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Advance equality of opportunity
  • Foster good relations

The two specific duties for schools aim to assist them to meet the general duty. These are:

To publish information to show how they are complying with the Equality Duty.

To prepare and publish one or more specific and measurable equality objectives.

What is meant by “due regard”?

Having due regard means that schools must consciously think about the three aims of the Equality Duty as part of decision-making, developing and reviewing policies and how they deliver services.

The three aims of the equality duty are:-

Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Advance equality of opportunity.

Foster good relations.