Introduction to equalities legislation for schools

Current thinking and supporting legislation regarding equalities in schools prioritises closing any gaps in achievement which may exist for certain groups of children and young people.

It is also about having procedures and strategies in place to ensure commitment to 'excellence for all' is evident. All schools are required to monitor the progress of all of their pupils from their own starting points towards fulfilling their academic potential in a discrimination-free environment where barriers to their personal, social and academic success can be mitigated and overcome.

The following pages of tools and links are intended to support the promotion of equalities and tackling of discrimination in your school and to contribute to your preparations for Ofsted inspection:

The language of Equalities and acceptable usage changes over time. You may find the following link to a glossary on the Equalities and Human Rights Commission website useful.

The newest guidance document from the DfE, published in May 2014 explains clearly what schools should do to comply with the law, and gives examples of what constitutes useful information to publish, and examples of realistic objectives a school might set. It is still a requirement that a school should maintain an accessibility plan. Here is the government guidance to schools.


Everyone who is committed to the educational outcomes for Northumberland's children and young people has to be aware of the challenges that face vulnerable groups of people. Schools develop strategies to target their resources to meet those needs and close gaps in achievement. We hope to give children the best chances in life by providing an education that will offer choices and opportunities.

Data tells us that vulnerable groups include: Looked After Children (CLA), those with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (LDD), Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) pupils, children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), those at risk of becoming Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), Gypsy Roma Traveller and other mobile children, Children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) and Early Years children.


The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission is an advisory non-departmental public body with a remit to monitor the progress of the Government and others on child poverty and social mobility. Each year the Commission sets out its views on the progress being made towards improving social mobility and tackling child poverty. A summary of the second State of the Nation report published in October 2014 is available to download. Cracking the Code: How schools can improve social mobility, also published in October 2014 seeks to define what schools can do to address educational inequalities.

The North East Child Poverty Commission aims to build public and political support for actions that improve the lives of poor children living in the North East. The section of their web site constructed to support schools includes sections on Poverty Proofing the School Day and ending holiday hunger. Training for teachers and governors can also be obtained via Children North East. Data and reports about child poverty in the region can be found in the Commission's online data resource.

The Children's Commission on Poverty is being led by children to discover, for the first time, what poverty really looks like – through young eyes. Their report At What Cost? Exploring the Impact of Poverty on School Life  was published in October 2014 and explores the impact of school related costs on disadvantaged children and their families. It summarises the evidence collected through three sessions in parliament as well as interviews with children and parents about their first-hand experience. The report includes recommendations for schools. The executive summary is available to download. .

The Pupil Premium Grant, is paid to schools to support children who might be challenged by financial disadvantage, being in (or having left)  the care of the Local Authority or having parents serving in the Armed Forces. The Department for Education web site has a section about the PPG and how schools must target the funding in order to close attainment gaps.

Recent research from Public Health England and the National Association of Head Teachers has been published as a briefing for head teachers, staff and governors. The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment was published in November 2014.

Links and resources

Some futher links and resources to help schools to consider how to recognise and set objectives relating to closing gaps and and ensuring equality in education and provision are listed below:

Since 2002 schools have been required to comply with Local Authority procedures for recording, reporting and responding to racist incidents.

This area of the web site sets out Northumberland Local Authority's current procedure with accompanying guidance. Schools have had to ensure that they follow the procedure, set out in section 2 since September 2008, and have in place effective measures to respond to racist incidents when they occur.

The three documents that follow give the guidance and resources that schools need when reporting and responding to racist incidents in Northumberland schools.

Leaflet: a summary leaflet with detailed guidance for schools.

Form 1:Reporting an individual incident to the Local Authority

Form 2: Annual report to Governors of racist incidents in school

Schools are required by law to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and foster good relations (Equality Act 2010). All schools have experience of developing policies and implementing practices which directly tackle these requirements. Where those policies and practices are aligned with the curriculum schools are able to influence attitudes and create the potential for real social change.

Every three years the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is required to report to Parliament on the progress that society is making in relation to equality, human rights and good relations. The vision of the EHRC is of a society ‘at ease with its diversity, where every individual has the opportunity to achieve their potential, and where people treat each other with dignity and respect.’

The first of those reports, How fair is Britain? is available to view now on the EHRC website. With regard to education, some of the key findings are that:

Education is a key determinant of life chances

  • Educational attainment continues to be strongly associated with socio-economic background
  • Pupils with SEN account for 7 out of 10 permanent exclusions from school in England
  • There is evidence that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people are being penalised by unfair treatment and bullying in the education system
  • Differences in participation in education persist throughout life


The following pages and links are ideas for how Northumberland schools might get started in developing anti-discriminatory practices through teaching, ethos and the curriculum.

Our partners for delivering race equality education in Northumberland are Show Racism the Red Card. Click on the image to follow the link.

The last item is a form developed for use in Northumberland schools to record incidents where homophobic or transphobic language or bullying have occurred

Northumberland schools are predominantly white British, (94% according to the 2014 school census in January) and many of our children do have limited opportunities to experience the multiple identities and diverse heritage that constitute much of the UK. Teachers respond to and observe examples of this relative seclusion. Some decide to tackle issues of diversity and contrasting cultures through their teaching and learning. This area of the web site is a starting point for those who would like to develop this further.

Show Racism the Red Card work with KS3 pupils around the theme of racism in football and society, and have a number of anti racist teaching resources for purchase. Northumberland schools can request free workshops in school.

Early years and KS1 children can have their perceptions challenged through stories and activities that focus on commonalities and differences in the UK.