Equality & Equity
The Equality Act 2010 replaces all previous equality legislation, including the Race Relations Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act.
Equality schemes: changes in legislation
The Equality Act 2010 introduced a single Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which came into effect in April 2011. It applies to public bodies, including maintained schools and academies.
Equality documents required for schools
Schools are no longer required to produce single equality schemes, although under the PSED we are required to publish information demonstrating compliance with the PSED, as well as a set of equality targets.
The PSED also requires that schools publish an Accessibility Plan: here [see PDF below] we set out how we make adjustments for those with disabilities.
Statement of Accessibility
The Single Equality Scheme requires an Accessibility Plan as a standalone document. This is a statement of present provision within the three required areas:
1. Increased access to curriculum for disabled pupils
Training for staff on autistic spectrum conditions, ADHD, selective mutism, epilepsy, behaviour managements and complex learning needs – allows increased understanding of the needs of our students. This is reflected in the differentiation of planning and personalised provision.
Students with specific learning difficulties and literacy / numeracy needs are supported through intervention programmes and staff are advised how best to accommodate their learning needs.
Students with mental health issues are referred to CAMHS. Identified students also received in-house counselling, mentoring and/or drama therapy by an external provider.
Designated staff are also trained in manual handling, first aid and infection control. The school also employs a full-time Specialist Occupational Therapist, an Educational Psychologist and a Clinical Psychologist.
2. Physical Environment
The interior of the school is on ground level with no steps or stairs. All doors are at regulated width for wheelchair access. There are disabled toilets and showering facilities within school. The main entrance and entrances to mobile classrooms are push button and automatically accessible to all students with a physical disability. There are ramps to mobile classrooms and other areas of the school. The Food Technology room has adjustable work surfaces, tables and oven/hob to allow for access by wheelchair users. The newer 14-19 centre is fully DDA compliant.
3. Written Information
There are interactive white boards / Touch screens in all rooms.
We have recently invested in more resources for Alternative Augmentative Communication. iPads, laptops and Kindles and Coomber Reading/Listening/Recording Stations. A member of the teaching staff has responsibility for developing this area throughout the school. Staff have received training for Communication in Print, SignAlong, British Sign Language and some staff are PECS trained [Picture Exchange Communication System]. Many staff have been trained to use Clicker 5 and WriteOnline.
Students with dyslexia have access to coloured / cream paper and/or coloured overlays. Those with a visual difficulty have work enlarged. One student has his work adapted by a TA who specialises support to visual impairments – a full-time braillist is also employed.
We also resource other identified equipment available to support students with communication difficulties.
The Public Sector Equality Duty: overview
The single Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) came into effect in April 2011 as a result of the Equality Act 2010. It requires public bodies to promote equality and replaced three pre-existing duties relating to disability, race and gender equality.
The PSED applies to all maintained and independent schools, including academies, and maintained and non-maintained special schools.
Characteristics protected by the PSED
The Department for Education (DfE) has published non-statutory advice on the Equality Act 2010 which sets out schools' obligations under the PSED.
Paragraph 5.1 explains that the PSED extends to the following protected characteristics:
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Gender reassignment
However, paragraph 5.2 notes that, for schools, age is "a relevant characteristic in considering their duties in their role as an employer but not in relation to pupils".
The three main elements of the duty
Paragraph 5.1 of the document explains that the PSED has three main elements. In carrying out their functions, public bodies 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
Paragraph 5.4 of the DfE's advice says that 'due regard' has been defined in case law and means giving "relevant and proportionate consideration to the duty".
For Isebrook, this means:
- Leadership, including Governors are aware of the duty and have due regard when making a decision or taking an action, and we assess whether it may have implications for people with particular protected characteristics
- We consider equality implications before and at the time we develop policy and take decisions, not as an afterthought, and that we keep policies and practice under review on a continuing basis
- The PSED is integrated into the way we carry out the school’s functions, and the analysis necessary to comply with the duty is carried out seriously, rigorously and with an open mind
In line with DfE requirements, Isebrook does not delegate responsibility for carrying out the duty to anyone else.