Complying with the Public Sector Equality Duty: A Schools Perspective.
Since last 2011, all public authorities, or organisations exercising a public function have been required to comply with both the general and specific duties of the public sector equality duty (PSED). The PSED applies to all schools, including maintained and independent schools, academies, and maintained and non-maintained special schools.
The General Duty came into effect in April 2011 and has three main elements. In carrying out their functions, schools are required to have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate discrimination and other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act (2010)
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
- Foster good relations across all characteristics, and between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
The PSED introduces secondary legislation in the form of specific duties. The specific duties require schools to:
- Publish information to demonstrate how they are complying with the PSED – this information must include, in particular, information relating to people who share a protected characteristic
- Prepare and publish equality objectives
Schools had until 6 April 2012 to publish their initial information and first set of objectives. They will then need to update the published information at least annually and to publish objectives at least once every four years. Schools that have not published such information are not compliant with the PSED.
In addition Schools are still required to publish an accessibility plan, setting out how they will make improvements in accessibility for those with disabilities.
The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) concluded in a piece of research in 2011 that:
“The majority of schools (62 per cent) were unaware of the forthcoming Single Equality Duty (now known as the Public Sector Equality Duty) and the range of protected equality strands covered, which suggests that it will be important to build schools’ awareness of the change in legislation.”1
Areas where schools are likely to have to pay particular regard to meeting the general duty include (but are not restricted to) admissions & exclusions, uniform policies, identity based bullying, assessments and examinations, behaviour & discipline, field trips and the provision of work experience/placements.
GriffinCare is able to provide comprehensive training for teachers, head teachers and governing bodies on all areas of equality, diversity, inclusion and Human Rights, including the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). Bespoke training on the Equality Act (2010) and the Public Sector Duty can be provided specifically for schools and providers of education, based on the best practice guidance from the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC). For further details contact [insert contact details here]
Stuart McKenna BSc (Hons), PGCert, PGDip.
Keywords: Public Sector Equality Duty; Schools; EHRC
1 Graham Bukowski, Hazel Roberts, Jen Fraser and Fiona Johnson, Ipsos MORI. (2011). The equality duties and schools. Equality & Human Rights Commission Research report 70.