Commission publishes equality guidance for schools

28 June 2013

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has today published guidance to help schools protect their pupils from discrimination and promote equality.

Schools Technical Guidance outlines the requirements under the Equality Act 2010 and explains clearly how those working in schools can create an environment where pupils of all backgrounds and abilities are able to learn and progress.  It sets out how all aspects of school life can be administered fairly, including: admissions, education provision, extracurricular activities, afterschool and homework clubs, sports activities and school trips, as well as access to school facilities such as libraries and IT facilities.

This guidance is aimed at those working in schools, at lawyers, courts and tribunals, and at everyone who needs to understand equality law in depth, or apply it in practice.  It has gone through a consultation process across the education sector, including school leaders, teachers, stakeholders, government departments and trade unions. These contributions have made sure that the guidance is relevant, practical, and collaborative.

While this guidance is not a statutory Code of Practice, it can be used as evidence in legal proceedings and provides an authoritative, comprehensive and technical guide to the detail of the law.

The Commission is continuing to develop a range of guidance materials on rights, responsibilities and good practice under the Equality Act 2010.

Ian Acheson, Chief Operating Officer at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“Schools play a vital role in the shaping of young people - their belief systems, their values and their morality.  To be treated fairly and with respect, to be offered equality of opportunity regardless of gender, age, religion, race or any other human characteristic, is surely a positive foundation for their later years and for how they treat others.
“Schools have been extremely helpful in producing this guide, and we hope that it provides them with the information to get equality right for all pupils.”

For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 0161 829 8102, out of hours 07767 272 818.

Notes to Editors

  • Schools Technical Guidance has been published for both Scotland and England.
  • This Technical Guidance outlines the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 on schools in relation to provision of education and access to benefits, facilities or services, both educational and non-educational.
  • While this guidance is not a statutory Code of Practice, it can be used as evidence in legal proceedings and provides an authoritative, comprehensive and technical guide to the detail of the law. The courts have said that a body subject to the equality duty that does not follow non-statutory guidance such as this will need to justify why it has not done so. However, such guidance does not in itself impose further duties to those set out in the statute.
  • School Technical Guidance and the full range of guidance available for individuals, the public sector, private businesses, service providers and employers can be found on the Commission website.
  • The Wales guidance for schools ‘What equality law means for you as an education provider in Wales: Schools’ was published in 2012. The guidance is available on the Wales section of the EHRC website at this link.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.  It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain.  It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.  The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. It encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act and is recognised by the UN as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institution.