Equality: Equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents, and believing that no one should have poorer life chances because of where, what or whom they were born, what they believe or whether they have a disability.
Discrimination: Discrimination means treating an individual or group less favourably because of a personal characteristic such as race, religion or special educational need.
Each school must produce a range of policies which formally set out the guidelines and procedures for ensuring equality. These must take account of the rights of all individuals and groups within the school. When considering the way policies work to ensure equality and inclusion, we often just think of the teaching and learning that’s happening within the classroom. Policies must also pay regard to the values and practice which are part of all aspects of school life. Before exploring the policies in your own setting, it is helpful to gain an understanding of relevant legislation and its purpose. You do not need detailed knowledge of each one, but it is important to understand the legal duties of the school. This will help you to understand your own role and responsibility to abide by legislation and policy.
Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Protects the rights of those with disabilities. It also places a duty on schools to eliminate barriers to ensure that individuals can gain equal access to services.
Disability Discrimination Act 2005
Places a duty for schools to produce a Disability Equality Scheme (DES) and an Access Plan. Schools must encourage participation in all aspects of school life and eliminate harassment and unlawful discrimination.
Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SEN)
Makes it unlawful for educational providers to discriminate against pupils with a special education need or disability.
Race Relations Act 2000
Outlines the duty of organisations to promote good relationships between people from different races.
Human Rights Act 1998
Sets out rights of all individuals and allows them to take action against authorities when their rights have been affected.
Children Act 1989
Sets out the duty of local authorities to provide services according to the needs of children and to ensure their safety and welfare.
Children Act 2004
Sets out the duty to provide effective and accessible services for all children and underpins the five Every Child Matters outcomes.
Education Act 1996
Sets out the school’s responsibilities towards children with special educational needs. The Act also requires schools to provide additional resources, equipment and additional support to meet their needs.
Equality Act 2010
Sets out the legal responsibilities of public bodies, including schools, to provide equality of opportunities for all citizens.
These are the relevant legislations which form a basis for government statutory codes of practice and frameworks and school policies and procedures relating to equal opportunity and inclusive practice.
To support schools in their duty to implement this legislation there are a number of statutory frameworks, codes of practice and guidelines.
The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2001
This outlines the statutory guidance for policy and procedures and responsibilities towards children with special education needs. It includes the levels of support which should be provided to children depending upon their individual need.
Code of Practice on the duty to promote race equality 2002
This is a statutory code which supports public authorities to meet their duty set out in the Race Relations Act. It requires all schools to produce a written race equality policy which includes information on practical ways in which schools will work to promote race equality. School policies must demonstrate that they are working towards the…