You must not refuse to admit a person as a pupil for discriminatory reasons

What does this mean?

Refusing to admit a person because of a protected characteristic is unlawful. If you are a single-sex school there are exceptions for admissions to enable you to restrict admission to pupils of one sex. If you are a school with a religious character there is an exception for admissions to enable you to have admissions criteria which give preference to members of your own religion. This is explained in more detail in Exceptions.

How do I avoid discriminating in relation to admission decisions? If your admissions criteria are non-discriminatory (see You must not place terms on a person's admission to your school which are discriminatory) and you follow them then you are unlikely to refuse admission to a person for a discriminatory reason. Those making admissions decisions should be aware of the school’s obligations under the Equality Act and take care not to make assumptions about applicants that may lead to unlawful discrimination. Any refusal to admit an applicant should be for a legitimate reason set out in the admissions criteria and not for any other reason.

Discriminatory reasons may include:

  • Refusing to admit a disabled pupil with behavioural difficulties because you are concerned that they will be disruptive.  
  • Refusing to admit a child for whom English is a second language.

For example:

The admissions tutor for an independent school interviews an applicant who has cerebral palsy which makes her speech unclear. The tutor assumes that the applicant also has learning difficulties and refuses to admit her as he thinks she will be unable to cope with the highly academic environment of the school. This would be unlawful disability discrimination.

Last Updated: 24 Sep 2010