About this departmental advice
This is non-statutory advice from the Department for Education. It has been produced to help schools to understand how the Equality Act affects them and how to fulfil their duties under the act.
On 1 October 2010, the Equality Act 2010 replaced all existing equality legislation, such as the Race Relations Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act. It has consolidated this legislation and also provides some changes of which schools need to be aware.
Current version dated September 2012. This advice will next be reviewed before September 2013.
Who is the advice for?
This advice is for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies in maintained schools and academies, but may also be useful for local authorities and parents.
The Equality Act 2010 provides a single, consolidated source of discrimination law. It simplifies the law and it extends protection from discrimination in some areas;
As far as schools are concerned, for the most part, the effect of the new law is the same as it has been in the past – meaning that schools cannot unlawfully discriminate against pupils because of their sex, race, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation;
The exceptions to the discrimination provisions for schools are all replicated in the new act – such as the content of the curriculum, collective worship and admissions to single sex schools and schools of a religious character; and
Schools that were already complying with previous equality legislation should not find major differences in what they need to do. However, there are some changes that will have an impact on schools, as detailed in Equality Act guidance February 2013.