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School equality

Information and guidance for Somerset schools on the Public Sector Equality Duty

Introduction

In its guide on equality information, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) states that publishing equality information should enable service users, staff, the Commission, regulators and other interested parties to assess the equality performance of your organisation. It will help you to explain how and why you have reached certain conclusions and made certain decisions. It will provide a clear picture of how you have complied with the general equality duty and it will make your decision-making more transparent.

What information should you publish

This will depend on the size of your school. The EHRC says that information will fall into two categories:

“1) information to identify equality issues. Examples of this include equality monitoring information about employees or service users, or information about the effect of your activities on people with different protected characteristics.

2) information about steps taken to have due regard to the aims of the general equality duty. For example, any records you have about how you had due regard in making certain decisions, information that was considered in that decision-making (including engagement), consideration of steps to mitigate adverse impacts, or details of policies to address equality concerns.”

In the Equality Act 2010 it is clear that the response should be proportionate to each situation. For example a small village primary school will not be expected to report the same level of information as a large multi-academy trust. Having said this all public bodies, including schools, are expected to provide some equality data and information.

The Department for Education (DfE) guidance for school leaders highlights the need to respond to data but also stresses that the publication of information can build on documentation that is already available.

DfE guidance for school leaders suggests this could include:

  • Eliminate Discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Equality of Opportunity
  • Foster Good Relations
    •  aspects of the curriculum which promote tolerance and friendship, or which share understanding of a range of religions or cultures
    • the behaviour and anti-bullying policies
    • assemblies dealing with relevant issues
    • involvement with the local communities, or initiatives to deal with tensions between different groups of pupils within the school itself.

Information about children and young people

The key question to ask is: “What sort of information will show that a school has due regard for equalities, and that it is willing for others to hold it to account?”

Each school is permitted to answer this question in its own way, according to its own circumstances. However, the government has indicated that minimally every public body must provide demographic information about its service users, and must show that it is aware of different outcomes and inequalities amongst them.

Confidentiality

Not all the relevant information that a school gathers has to be placed in the public domain. It would never be appropriate to publish information which enables individual pupils or members of staff to be identified, or even to create the circumstances where pupils, parents or staff may try to identify individuals (for example gay or lesbian staff).

Accessibility of information

This requirement means in essence that information must be easy to find and easy for parents or carers and other non-specialists to understand.

For schools, the most obvious vehicle for publishing information is to use the school website, though some information (for example the equality objectives agreed) might also be included in newsletters, put on notice boards and in your staff handbook.

Last reviewed: November 30, 2023 by Helly

Next review due: May 30, 2024

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