The Equality Act 2010 and teaching

About The Equality Act 2010

Here we take a look at the Equality Act 2010. The government has recently released ‘Inclusive Britain: government response to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’. This follows the findings of the Sewell report published in March 2021.

You should be aware that education and schools are addressed within the report. Notably, you should know this in two areas: the history curriculum and guidance on hair and school uniform.

The history curriculum

Firstly, you have probably heard how the history curriculum faced criticism last year. Also, you may know that this was related to the lack of diversity and cultural changes being taught. However, you may be unaware that the DfE advised that a new “model history curriculum” will be ready by 2024.  This will prepare history teachers with the skills to cover lessons that include “migration and cultural change”.

Guidance on hair and school uniform

You may not know that the DfE’s statement also addresses aspects of hair and school uniform. As a result of several legal cases, school policies need to be reviewed. You may have seen on the news the case  of pupil, Ruby Williams versus Urswick School. In this case the school asked for guidance around the matter as none seemed to exist from the DfE. The DfE acknowledged that some school policies especially pertaining to uniform may “indirectly discriminate against black pupils”.

Did you know that one of the issues has been around afro hair? This is whereby pupils faced discrimination and, in some case, led to them being excluded. Other issues you may have heard about have centred around some pupils wanting to wear longer skirts due to religious reasons. The DfE reiterated that “Any [school] uniform requirement which is not appropriate, reasonable or necessary and which puts black children at a particular disadvantage could constitute indirect discrimination.”

Further to this, you may be unaware that there is some dispute about differing uniforms. As a result of having different uniforms for boys and girls, without the choice of a gender-neutral version, it may constitute sex discrimination under the Equality Act.

Whats supply teachers need to know

As a supply teacher you need to know that the Equality Act 2010, applies to all aspects of school life. This includes how a school treats pupils, and how they apply their school policies. You should know that it ensures individuals or groups of people are not put at a disadvantage.  You may be aware that there are several protective factors under the Act to which this applies. But to remind you we have listed them here.

Protective factors under the Equality Act

Disability, race, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief.

To read more about DfE guidance click here

Why not read our part 2 of the latest news? Importantly, it is about how you can promote equality and diversity in the classroom.