Guidance on writing your school s Single Equality Plan

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1 Guidance on writing your school s Single Equality Plan January 2012 This advice is for: School leaders, school staff and governing bodies in maintained schools and academies. This advice will assist schools to carry out their two Specific Duties in relation to the Equality Duty. Schools have to meet the public sector equality duty regulation requirements and publish their equality information and objectives by 6 April Schools are not legally required to produce a single equality plan although it is a tried and tested way to publish equality information and objectives. A model plan is provided with the guidance. The advice has been compiled by a working group composed of Bracknell Forest Headteachers and Local Authority Officers.

2 FOREWORD On 1 October, the Equality Act 2010 replaced all existing equality legislation such as the Race Relations Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act. There are some changes that schools need to be aware of. KEY POINTS The Equality Act 2010 provides a single, consolidated source of discrimination law. It simplifies the law and it extends protection from discrimination in some areas. As far as schools are concerned, for the most part, the effect of the new law is the same as it has been in the past meaning that schools cannot unlawfully discriminate against pupils because of their sex, race, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The exceptions to the discrimination provisions for schools are all replicated in the new act such as the content of the curriculum, collective worship and admissions to single sex schools and schools of a religious character. Schools that were already complying with previous equality legislation should not find major differences in what they need to do. However, there are some changes that will have an impact on schools as follows: New Protection in Schools Protection against discrimination is now extended to pupils who are pregnant or have recently given birth, or who are undergoing gender reassignment. Health Related Questions for Job Applicants It is now unlawful for employers to ask health-related questions of applicants before a job offer, unless the questions are specifically related to an intrinsic function of the work. This means that schools should no longer, as a matter of course, require job applicants to complete a generic health questionnaire as part of the application procedure. The DfE are considering the implications of this in relation to existing guidance for schools on establishing fitness and ability to teach (as required by the Health Standards (England) Regulations 2003). In the meantime, schools are advised to review their existing practices to ensure they are complying with both the Health Standards Regulations and Section 60 of the Equality Act. Schools may decide to ask necessary health questions after a job offer. In any case, they should ensure that any health-related questions are targeted, necessary and relevant to the job applied for. Positive Action New Positive Action provisions will allow schools to target measures that are designed to alleviate disadvantages experienced by, or to meet the particular needs of, pupils with particular protected characteristics. 1 Such measures will need to be a proportionate way of achieving the relevant aim. Previously a school providing for example special catch-up classes for Roma children or a project to engage specifically the alienated Asian boys might have been discriminating unlawfully by excluding children who didn t belong to these groups. 1 See Appendix B for range of protected characteristics 2

3 Victimisation It is now unlawful to victimise a child for anything done in relation to the Act by their parent or sibling. Auxiliary Aids The Act will extend the reasonable adjustment duty to require schools to provide auxiliary aids and services to disabled pupils. However this duty is not due to come into effect until a later date, following consultation on implementation and approach. Equality Duties The three existing general and specific equality duties on schools (race, disability and gender) to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity have been combined into a single, less bureaucratic and more outcome-focused duty extending to all of the protected characteristics. These are the new provisions of the Act but schools will need to be aware of how the rest of the Equality Act applies to them. Guidance produced by the DfE on the Equality Act, the general duty and its impact on schools can be found at: tyanddiversity/a /the-equality-act-2010 A Single Equality Plan A single equality plan for a school will bring together a range of actions showing how the general and specific equality duties can be addressed. A sample plan is included in Annex A which can be readily adapted to suit each school s purposes. As with any such plans, arrangements need to be in place for the success indicators to be regularly reviewed by staff and school governors. Creating your Single Equality Plan 1. Elect your project group. Include your lead governor and, where possible, a representative from your community. 2. Equality Information Gather the information you already hold. You may wish to consider: Achievement by ethnicity, gender and disability Attendance levels Exclusions Rates of bullying/racist incidents Access arrangements and take-up rates for school activities Participation of parents at information evenings and school surveys. Do you record this information by protected characteristics? 3. Consultation and engagement How do you currently engage with the protected groups and how could you do so better in the future? You may wish to consider: Feedback from the annual parent questionnaire, parents evening, parent-school forum meetings or governors parent-consultation meeting Input from staff surveys or through staff meetings and evaluations of school training 3

4 Feedback from the school council, PSHE lessons, whole school surveys on children s attitudes to self and school Issues raised in annual reviews or reviews of progress on Individual Education Plans/ Personalised Provision Maps, mentoring and support Feedback at governing body meetings. Engagement. Points to remember: Take an approach that is proportionate to your size and resources In practical terms, you will not be able to engage with every protected group on every decision. As a starting point you will need to decide how relevant the policy is for equality and good relations and for a particular protected group. It is often helpful to consider how you would be able to explain how you came to this decision. 4. Priorities: Using the evidence you have gathered in Stage 1, 2 and 3 decide upon your Equality Objectives. For Example: Increase participation by ethnic minority pupils in after school activities Narrow the gap in performance of special educational needs pupils Anticipate the needs of incoming pupils from a new group, such as traveller children Encourage girls to consider non-stereotyped career options Reduce the number of homophobic incidents. 5. Publishing the plan Once the plan has been agreed by the Governing Body: Publish your plan on the school website Raise awareness of the plan through the school newsletter, assemblies, staff meetings and other communications Make sure hard copies are available. 6. Review of progress and impact Your Single Equality Plan needs to be published by April 6 th 2012 and monitored annually. 4

5 Annex A Sample Single Equality Plan Date The Governing Body of (school) is pleased to publish its first Single Equality Plan. In developing the plan we have been able to identify and record the progress we have made towards achieving equality and tackling discrimination and come to a better understanding of the challenges still to be addressed. We will ensure that this Single Equality Plan is effectively implemented and scrutinised so that we meet the obligations placed upon us by the Equality Duty. Promoting the priorities identified within our Single Equality Plan will be a continuous process. It will be taken in partnership with the school s community. We would like to thank those who have been involved in developing the plan. The roles and responsibilities related to the plan are included in Appendix A. Schools have to meet the public sector equality duty regulation requirements and publish their equality information and objectives by 6 April A recommended way of doing this is by publishing an equality plan. A model plan is provided with the guidance. The Equality Act 2010 s Public Sector Equality Duty came into force in April 2011and has three aims under the general duty for Schools. To have due regard of the need to: 1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act: by removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics. 2. Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not. 3. Foster good relations between those with a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not. The specific duties that are required to demonstrate compliance with the equality duties are: 1. To publish equality information by April 2012 and then annually. 2. To publish equality objectives by April 2012 and then at least every four years. Our school/academy, has considered how well we currently achieve these aims with regard to the protected equality groups. Using the information we have gathered we have decided upon our equality objectives. Our plan to meet these objectives will be monitored annually. In compiling this equality information we have: Reviewed the schools equality data, policies and practice and identified gaps Examined how our school engages with the protected groups, identifying where practice could be improved. The outcomes are published within our Single Equality Plan. The Plan has been agreed by our Governing Body. In line with legislative requirements, we will review progress against our Equality Plan annually and review the entire plan and accompanying action plan on a four year cycle. 5

6 Sample Single Equality Plan Equality Strand Action How will the impact of the action be monitored? Who is responsible for implementing? What are the time frames? Early success indicators Example: Question about Headteacher/ Immediately Staff are familiar with All Publish and promote the Equality Plan through the school website, newsletter and staff meetings. parent awareness of Equality Plan in annual survey. designated member of staff. after Equality Plan is agreed by governing body. the principles of the Equality Plan and use them when planning lessons, creating classroom displays Parents are aware of the Equality Plan. Example: Monitoring and analysis of pupil achievement Achievement data Headteacher. Annually in Analysis of teacher All by race, gender and disability. analysed by race, gender and Governing body. Sept. assessments/annual data demonstrates Specific (Identifies that boys are underachieving disability. the gap is narrowing example: academically in Maths. Average scores show for equality groups. Gender that 72% of girls are achieving the expected levels, while the figure for boys is 48%. The school decides to set an objective to improve this figure over a three year period to 68% of boys reaching the required grade.) By July 2015, 68% of boys achieving Level 4+ in maths will have increased by 20%. Example: Ensure that the curriculum promotes role Increase in pupils Humanities Sept 2012 Notable increase in All models and heroes that young people positively identify with, which reflects the school s diversity in terms of race, religion and belief, gender and disability. participation, confidence and achievement levels. lead, through history lesson plans. July 2013 participation and confidence of targeted groups.

7 Example: Recognise and represent the talents of Gifted and Talented Member of staff From Jan 2012 Analysis of the All disabled pupils in Gifted and Talented programmes, and ensure representation on the programmes fully reflects the school population in terms of race, gender and disability. register monitored by race, gender and disability. leading on G&T. Gifted & Talented register indicates it is changing to reflect the school s diversity. Example: Ensure that displays in classrooms and Increase in pupil Headteacher. Ongoing More diversity All corridors promote diversity in terms of race, gender and ethnicity. participation, confidence and positive identity monitor through PSHE. reflected in school displays across all year groups. Example: Ensure all newly arrived pupils are given the School council Member of staff Jan 2012 More diversity in Race opportunity to make a positive contribution to the life of the school e.g. through involvement in class assemblies, school council elections, fund raising etc. representation monitored by race, gender, disability. leading on school council. school council membership. A school has decided that school events, including parents evenings, are poorly attended by the minority ethnic community, whose children currently make up 17% of the pupil roll. Example: Race Over the next academic year, we will introduce new approaches to encourage members of our local minority ethnic community to attend school events, so that registers of attendance show at least 12% attendance from that community. Identify, respond and report racist incidents. Report the figures to the Governing body/local Authority on a termly basis. Data to assess the impact of the school s response to incidents i.e. have whole school/year Headteacher/ Governing body. Reporting: December, April, July. Teaching staff are aware of and respond to racist incidents. 7

8 group approaches led to a decrease in incidents. Are pupils and parents satisfied with the response? Consistent nil reporting is challenged by the Governing Body. Example: Introduce initiative to encourage girls to take Increased Member of staff April July More girls take up Gender up sport outside the curriculum requirements, including offering dance lessons, to make participation rates more reflective of the school population. participation of girls in sports clubs and out of school sport activities. leading on sports / PE after-school sports clubs. Example: Promote governor vacancies with leaflets in Monitoring of Lead Governor April 2012 More applications Disability accessible formats, by involving disabled young people/parents in design and specifically welcoming applications from disabled candidates. applications by disability to see if material was effective. on Special Educational Needs & Disabilities from disabled candidates to be School Governors. The sample plan has been adapted from a model created by Camden Council and published on their web-site. 8

9 Appendix A Roles and Responsibilities Governors: A named governor will take the lead; the governors as a whole are responsible for: Making sure the school complies with the relevant equality legislation Monitoring progress towards the equality objectives and reporting annually. The Headteacher will: Implement the school s stated equality objectives Ensure the equality objectives and access plans are written, and that they are readily available to governors, staff, pupils and parents Ensure all staff know their responsibilities and receive training and support in carrying these out Take appropriate action in cases of harassment and discrimination, including prejudicerelated incidents Enable reasonable adjustments to be made in relation to disability in regard to students, staff, parents/carers and visitors to the school. All staff within the school will: Advance equality in their work Foster good relations between groups and deal with prejudice-related incidents Be able to recognise and tackle bias and stereotyping Take up training and learning opportunities. (Visitors and contractors are also responsible for following relevant school policies)

10 Appendix B Protected characteristics: definitions Age Where this is referred to, it refers to a person belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g year olds). Disability A person has a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person s ability to carry out normal day-today activities. Gender reassignment The process of transitioning from one gender to another. Further guidance Marriage and civil partnership Marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples can have their relationships legally recognised as civil partnerships. Civil partners must be treated the same as married couples on a wide range of legal matters. Pregnancy and maternity Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. Race Refers to the protected characteristics of Race. It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour and nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origins. Religion and belief Religion has the meaning usually given to it but belief includes religious and philosophical beliefs including lack of belief (e.g. Atheism). Generally, a belief should affect your life choices or the way you life it to be included in the definition. Sex: A man or a woman. Sexual orientation whether a person s sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes. 10

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