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.
• Sex.
• Sexual orientation.

The protected characteristics of age and marriage and civil partnership apply to schools as employers, but not in relation to their provision for pupils.

Download: Equality Plan

Link: Equalities Act 2010