Single Equality Act Policy
As a Catholic community, based on the teachings of Christ, our mission is to provide an outstanding whole person education through which all are challenged to grow in wisdom, understanding self-esteem and closeness to God, respecting the uniqueness of each person as central to that mission. As such, the college fully accepts and endorses the responsibilities and duties to promote equality for all.
Within that acceptance, we do recognise the continued general exceptions to the Act as laid down for schools with a religious character or a registered religious ethos. Such exceptions centre on:
1. Acts of Worship
The Act contains a general exception to the religion or belief provisions that allow all schools to have acts of worship or other forms of collective religious observance. The daily act of collective worship is not covered by the religion or belief provisions. This means the college is not acting unlawfully where provision of an equivalent act of worship for other faiths is not undertaken.
The character and content of collective worship in a Voluntary Aided school continues to be determined by the Governing Body and for a VA school with a religious character such will be in accordance with the school’s Trust Deed or in accordance with the beliefs of the religion or denomination specified for the school. For Newman RC College this means compliance with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Schools are also free to celebrate religious festivals particular to their tradition and would not be discriminating against children of other faiths by, for example in a Catholic school, putting on a nativity play.
All of the current characteristics in Catholic schools are covered by the employment provisions of the Act. It provides that for schools with a religious character, it will not be unlawful discrimination to do things permitted by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and the 2006 Education and Inspections Act. The existing exemptions as they relate to schools with a religious character are therefore retained.
This means for Newman RC College that, in common with other voluntary aided schools with a religious character, we may give preference in connection with the appointment, remuneration or promotion of teachers at the school, to those whose religious beliefs or religious practice is in accordance with the tenets of their denomination, the Roman Catholic faith. This extends to the posts of Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and Head of Religious Education which must be filled by baptised and practising Catholics ¹. Likewise the Governing Body of Newman RC College may give similar preference to those who give or who are willing to give religious education at the school in accordance with the tenets of the Catholic Church ².
Preference can also be given to practising Catholics in non-teaching posts where there is a genuine occupation requirement 3. (See Appendix A)
The conduct of a teacher which is incompatible with the precepts of the Church, or which fails to uphold its tenets, may be taken into consideration in determining whether the teacher’s employment should be terminated 4. In addition, the Governing Body of Newman RC College, (like other schools with a religious character) has the power to dismiss a Religious Education teacher, without the consent of the Local Authority, on the grounds that s/he fails to give religious education efficiently and suitably 5.
¹ Section 60, School Standards and Framework Act 1998
² Section 60, School Standards and Framework Act 1998
3Section 37, Education and Inspections Act 2006
4 Section 60, School Standards and Framework Act 1998
5 Section 58, School Standards and Framework Act 1998]
At Newman RC College the Governing Body is the Admissions Authority for the school and makes decisions as to admissions arrangements. It is their duty to ensure that such arrangements are compliant with the Admissions Codes and other relevant legislation. Further that:
• admissions criteria are clear, fair, objective and transparent
• arrangements are as simple as possible
• all parents’ preferences are treated on an equal basis
• no discrimination is applied on the basis of race, sex (save in single sex schools), disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief and sexual orientation
However, in a Catholic school priority can be afforded to Baptised Catholic children where the school is oversubscribed and that action is in accordance with Newman RC College’s published admissions policy. In addition, and for all schools, age is not a protected characteristic in relation to pupils so allowing schools to admit and organise pupils in age groups.
The content of the curriculum has never been caught by discrimination law and the Act states that it is specifically excluded. The delivery of the curriculum is however explicitly included.
The DfE guidance highlights the relationship between protection because of sexual orientation and protection of religious freedom. It states that many peoples’ views on sexual orientation/sexual activity are grounded in religious belief. It refers to concerns of schools with a religious character that they may be prevented from teaching in line with their religious ethos. It also refers to teachers having expressed concerns that they may be subject to legal action if they do not voice positive views on same sex relationships, whether or not this view accords with their faith. The guidance also refers to concerns that such schools may teach and act in ways unacceptable to lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils and parents when same sex relationships are discussed because there are no express provisions to prevent this occurring.
The guidance makes clear that, like all schools, schools with a religious character have a responsibility to the welfare of children in their care and to adhere to curriculum guidance. It goes on to say that, provided their beliefs are explained in an appropriate way in an educational context that takes into account existing guidance on the delivery of Sex and Religious Education (SRE) then schools should not be acting unlawfully. Further that it would not be unlawful for a teacher in any school to express personal views on sexual orientation provided that it is done in an appropriate manner and context. The guidance however provides a note of caution about the influential role of a teacher and that their actions and responsibilities extend beyond the requirements of the equality legislation and that expressing personal views should not extend to allowing unlawful discrimination.
STATEMENT OF COMMITMENT
Newman RC College is committed to a policy of equality and aims to ensure that no employee, job applicant, pupil or other member of the school community is treated less favourably on grounds of sex, race, age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation or religious belief save for the general exceptions previously instanced.
Any behaviour, comments or attitudes that undermine or threaten an individual’s self esteem on these grounds will not be tolerated. We aim to provide equal access to high quality educational opportunities and to ensure that everyone feels that they are a valued member of the school community. We seek to provide a safe and happy environment where all can flourish and where cultural diversity is celebrated.
We aim to empower our pupils to make informed choices so that they are better prepared for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life within their community. Equality of opportunity
cannot be realised without the involvement and commitment of all members of the school community and a common understanding of the pivotal role of equal opportunities in the context of the school’s ethos and values, in particular, the recognition that the role of all staff is crucial in the delivery of the objectives of the policy.
All members of the school community are responsible for promoting the school’s equal opportunities policy and are obliged to respect and act in accordance with the policy.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
Newman RC College aims to:
• carry out their legal duty in complying with the relevant legislation set out in Appendix A
• reinforce the school’s position as a provider of high quality education and as a good employer providing development opportunities;
• ensure that equality remains high on the college’s strategic agenda;
• establish good people management practice and to set out a proactive agenda in which discrimination is recognised as an organisational issue which needs an organisational response;
• achieve a staffing composition that as far as possible reflects the composition of the wider community;
• ensure all staff work together with a shared sense of purpose to meet the needs of every pupil;
• ensure that pupils and staff contribute towards a happy and caring environment by showing respect for, and appreciation of, one another as individuals;
• ensure that complaints or evidence of failure to comply with the college’s equal opportunities aims and objectives will be dealt with promptly and fully investigated according to the relevant procedure. All forms of unlawful behaviour itemised in Appendix B by any person within the college’s responsibility will be treated seriously as such behaviour is unacceptable.
Equal opportunities and all protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 will be considered and recorded whenever college policies are developed or reviewed in order to provide a comprehensive and consistent process of monitoring and evaluation.
The success of action on Equal Opportunities is closely linked to the provision of relevant training. Governors and staff will be encouraged to take up all relevant opportunities provided by the school, Diocese and/or Local Authority.
Newman RC College will endeavour to:
• enhance and develop the skills, knowledge and abilities of existing employees to realise their full potential, irrespective of background or employment status;
• provide equal access to training and development opportunities for all staff, full and part time, on the basis of their assessed training needs;
• promote greater awareness of equal opportunities and the contribution made by staff, governors, parents/guardians, pupils and the Parish(es);
• equip employees with the skills to provide personal and organisational solutions, eliminate discriminatory practices and to promote anti-discrimination generally.
ADDRESSING PREJUDICE AND PREJUDICE BULLYING
Newman RC College challenges all forms of prejudice and prejudice based bullying, which are a barrier to us achieving our commitment to ‘dignity and excellence’ for all. This includes prejudice relating to all protected characteristics of the 2010 Equality Act: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage; pregnancy; race; religion or belief; gender; sexual orientation.
Clear guidance is issued to all staff on how all prejudice related incidents should be identified, assessed, recorded and dealt with. We treat bullying related incidents equally seriously. Accurate records are kept of any prejudice related incidents and what actions have been put in place as a result. These records are reviewed on a regular basis with appropriate action implemented in order to reduce the number of incident occurring.
WHAT WE ARE DOING TO ADVANCE EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY BETWEEN DIFFERENT GROUPS
• We know the needs of our college population very well and collect and analyse data in order to inform our planning and identify targets for improvement.
• We have procedures, working with external partners and parents/carers, to identify children who have additional needs through our transition and admissions procedures.
• We collect academic data to monitor the progress and attainment of different groups and use this to support whole school improvement. We take relevant action to close identified attainment and progress gaps for such groups as gender, ethnicity, special educational needs and disabilities, disadvantaged and English as an Additional Language pupils.
• The college’s policies on behaviour, exclusions and attendance take full account of the duty under the Equality Act 2010. We make reasonable, appropriate and flexible adjustment for pupils with a disability
• We closely monitor data on exclusions, behaviour and achievement for evidence of proportional representation of different groups and take action appropriately to address concerns when they arise.
• We strive to ensure outstanding learning opportunities that will enable all pupils to learn and make progress.
• We are alert and proactive about the potentially damaging impact of negative and derogatory language in matters such as race, gender, sexuality, disability, religious belief and sexuality.
WHAT WE ARE DOING TO FOSTER GOOD RELATIONS
• We prepare our pupils for life in a diverse society and ensure that there are activities across the discrete and wider curriculum that promotes the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our pupils.
• We teach about difference, diversity and the impact of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination explicitly through PSHCE, Religious Education, assemblies and tutor time activities and implicitly through other subjects.
• We use materials and resources that reflect the diversity of the college population and wider context of the college in terms of race, gender, sexual identity and disability avoiding stereotyping.
• We provide opportunities for pupils to appreciate their own culture and celebrate the cultures of other pupils.
• We provide opportunities for pupils to listen to a range of opinions and empathise with different experiences.
The objectives which we identify represent our college priorities and are the outcome of a careful review and analysis of data and other evidence. They also take into consideration national and local priorities.
Our equality objectives for 2017-8 are as follows:
• To eradicate permanent exclusions for pupils with a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act.
• To ensure fixed term exclusions are below national average for pupils with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.
• To ensure attendance for disadvantaged pupils is 1% above national average for this group nationally.
MONITORING REVIEW AND EVALUATION
1. Governors recognise their duty to ensure that the Equal Opportunities Policy is regularly monitored and reviewed. Monitoring is an essential aspect of this policy, as it should provide important information by which the college can measure its performance against its aims and objectives. Statistical information can also enable governors and the Head Teacher to detect where potential or actual imbalances exist and to take steps to correct them.
2. Monitoring with respect to employment will be undertaken in the following areas on at least an annual basis by sex, race, disability, grade and subject area:
• composition of the school staff;
• recruitment trends;
• take up of training opportunities;
• promotion patterns;
• use of complaints procedure;
• use of grievance, disciplinary, harassment processes, etc;
• use of sanctions;
• take up of family-friendly policies, eg flexible working arrangements.
3. Exit interviews will also provide further helpful information and feedback.
PUBLICATION OF INFORMATION
Following the initial publication in April 2012 of information about compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty and the setting out of equality objectives the Governing Body recognise that the information has to be updated annually and the agreed objectives reviewed at least once every four years. They will ensure that such evidence identifies what steps have been taken and progress achieved in meeting the equality objectives set out by the school. The main vehicle for setting out the relevant information will be the school website.
This policy and associated Equality Objectives are due to be updated in September 2018.
Signed: Chair of Governors
Review Date :
THE 2010 EQUALITY ACT: SUMMARY
The Act places on Governing Bodies the responsibility to have due regard to three specified matters which are the need to :
1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act;
2. Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not;
3. Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not.
The matters referred to at (2) and (3) apply to the ‘relevant protected characteristics’ which are set out in Section 147(7) of the Act as age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. They do not therefore apply to the protected characteristic of marriage and civil partnership. Subsection (1) however applies to all protected characteristics.
The Act also defines ‘due regard’ as follows:
• Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by persons who share a relevant protected characteristic that are connected to that characteristic;
• Taking steps to meet the needs of persons who share a relevant protected characteristic from the needs of persons who do not share it;
• Encouraging persons who share a relevant protected characteristic to participate in public life or any other activity in which participation by such persons is disproportionately low.
The Act combines previous strands of legislation and affords the categories of protection identified thus:
• Sex discrimination
Under The Equality Act 2010, direct sex discrimination is where A treats B less favourably than A treats others, or would treat others, if the reason is gender based. Women are, however, entitled to special treatment in connection with pregnancy, maternity or breast-feeding. Sex discrimination is generally unlawful in schools. The content of the legislation covers recruitment policies, dismissals and redundancies, fringe benefits and other non- contractual matters and requires that women and men should be treated equally.
• Gender reassignment discrimination
The Equality Act 2010 identifies gender reassignment as a process and not an event. Discrimination in connection with the provision of education on grounds of past, present or proposed gender reassignment is generally unlawful.
• Sexual orientation discrimination
Discrimination in connection with the provision of education on grounds of sexual orientation is generally unlawful under the provisions of The Equality Act 2010.
• Race discrimination
Race as defined in The Equality Act 2010 includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. Race is essentially a group characteristic, but one racial group can be part of a larger racial group. Discrimination in connection with provision of education on grounds of race is generally unlawful under the Act. The Act makes it illegal to discriminate in recruitment, promotion, training and transfer, terms and conditions of employment or dismissal on grounds of colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins. Where persons of a particular racial group are under-represented, either generally or in a section of the workforce, the Act enables employers to advertise vacancies in such a way as to encourage applications from persons of that racial group.
The amendments to the Act give schools a statutory general duty to promote race equality and eliminate unlawful racial discrimination. All schools are required to have a written race equality policy in place.
• Religion or belief discrimination
Discrimination on the grounds of faith or lack of it cannot be enacted save for the general exceptions afforded to schools with a recognised religious character.
• Disability discrimination
There is a general requirement in The Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities and a more specific requirement to do so in the field of education. Special educational needs are also relevant to this area of discrimination. The Act requires Local Authorities in England and Wales to improve their schools and the ways in which disabled pupils can access pupil information and the school’s curriculum. There must be a written accessibility strategy produced after due consultation and that strategy must be implemented within a reasonable time.
Enforcement of The Equality Act 2010 relating to disability in schools is possible through:
– school admission appeals;
– school exclusion appeals;
– application to the First-tier Tribunal
Complaints about discrimination in maintained schools and academies may be made to the Secretary of State, seeking action by use of powers concerning unreasonable exercise of functions. A school Governing Body must publish information in their annual report about arrangements for disabled pupils.
The Act, subject to the general exceptions previously identified, supports the implementation of equal opportunities in employment for all staff and encourages measures to ensure, wherever possible, that the staffing of the school reflects the diversity of its community.
Schools are to ensure that other equality issues such as gender, race or disability are free from discrimination when appointing staff, allocating Teaching and Learning Responsibilities or re-evaluating staff structures.
Note. Genuine Occupational Requirements
Discrimination is permitted in cases where a person’s sex, race or religion is a genuine occupational requirement for the job. For Catholic schools these are set out under the continued general exceptions to the Act. Examples from the sex discrimination legislation are where a job has to be held by a man and not a woman or vice versa to preserve decency or privacy, such as where the job involved visiting changing rooms while they are in use. Further exemptions relate to single sex sport. In race discrimination law, provision of childcare or similar service promoting a particular racial group’s welfare may be more effectively provided by someone of that race. It may then be permissible to specify that race as a genuine occupational requirement.
THE 2010 EQUALITY ACT: UNLAWFUL BEHAVIOUR
There are four ways in which unlawful behaviour may occur:
• Direct discrimination: This means treating someone less favourably than others would be treated in the same or similar circumstances on the grounds of race, sex, etc.
• Indirect discrimination: This means applying a requirement or condition which cannot be justified to all groups but which has a disproportionately adverse effect on one group because the proportion of that group which can comply is smaller than the proportion of the group(s) which can comply with it.
• Victimisation: This occurs when a person is treated less favourably than other persons would be treated because that person has done a for example ‘protected act’ under the Equal Pay Act, Sex Discrimination Act, Race Relations Act or Employment Equality Regulations, for example, by bringing forward proceedings or giving evidence or information.
• Harassment: Harassment can take many forms, from the most obvious abusive remarks to extremely subtle use of power. As with unfair or unlawful discrimination, harassment can be intentional or unintentional. However, the key issue is not simply the intention of the offender but the behaviour on the person receiving it.
In all cases transgressions will be fully and properly acted upon using the appropriate procedure.