Equal Opportunities Policy
The Equality Act 2010 brings together all the legal requirements on equality that the private, public and voluntary sectors need to follow. It affects equality law at work and in delivery all kinds of services and in the context of this policy in all aspects of the provision of an education.
The Equality Act 2010 replaces all the existing equality law including:
- The Equal Pay Act 1970
- The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
- The Race Relations Act 1976
- The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Whether at work as an employee or in using a service, the message (or purpose) of the Act is that everyone has the right to be treated fairly at work and when using services.
The Act protects people from discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics and they vary slightly according to whether the person is at work or using a service.
The are NINE ‘protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage or Civil Partnership
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sex (gender)
- Sexual orientation
Equality of opportunity is a fundamental aspect of the ethos of Westward School. It is the responsibility of the proprietors, Headteacher and all personnel involved in the school to provide leadership in the development and implementation of effective policies to promote equality of opportunity.
We aim to ensure that every pupil and teacher is given an equal opportunity to achieve their full potential. In addition, each individual is entitled to learn, teach or work in a supportive environment and to benefit from the diversity of our school community.
To meet these aims, we are committed to:
- Equal access and treatment for everyone
- Being responsive to changing needs
- Educating and informing children, staff and parents about the issues in this policy
- Avoiding prejudice
- Promoting mutual respect, regardless of differences
- Working to an agreed code of conduct which can be modified, monitored and evaluated in accordance with current best practice in the area of equal opportunities
- To promote a positive self-image in all children and to respect their individuality, providing for all pupils according to their needs
- To ensure equality of opportunity permeates the whole curriculum and ethos of the school
- In delivering the curriculum, to ensure it contains non-stereotypical images in order to overcome preconceived ideas of gender, ethnic origin, culture or religion
- To include in resources books, materials and equipment that are multicultural and non-sexist, providing positive images of all groups
- To ensure that the organisation of the school is sensitive to the needs of all
- To acknowledge the richness and diversity of British society and to help prepare children for their part in that society
- To develop a positive attitude to equal opportunity by the proprietors, senior management, children and all who participate in the school.
Unlawful discrimination occurs when one person receives less favourable treatment because of their having one or more protective characteristic.
The law is extensive and complex especially when the implications of the Human Rights Act also feature in considerations. Accordingly, the Headteacher will provide general guidance on matters which require clarification whilst ensuring professional guidance is sought when specific reference is needed to the Equality Act 2010 and relevant EU legislation.
DIRECT AND INDIRECT DISCRIMINATION
In most cases, the nature of less favourable treatment will be clear and common sense will dictate the necessary action to take.
Where doubt exists, then reference should be made to the Headteacher.
The school values diversity amongst the staff. In all staff appointments, the most suitable candidate will be appointed on professional criteria, with recruitment carried out ensuring safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education procedures are adhered to and in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.
Teaching staff and school helpers will observe children at play and in classrooms, always seeking to identify good and acceptable behaviour.
In instances of unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour, suitable counselling will be given at the time but repeated abuse will be recorded for discussion with the Headteacher, senior management and parents.
Suitable training is to be undertaken by relevant teaching staff and proprietors to aid the identification of discrimination, learn techniques for managing abuse and to keep abreast of changes in the law.
This document and others relevant to standards of behaviour (e.g., Behaviour & Anti-Bullying Policy) will be available on the school website for reading by the proprietors, staff, parents and prospective staff and parents.
An “open door” policy will continue to operate in order that parents may discuss their concerns with the Headteacher and staff. Equally, early advice should be given of any protective characteristic (or suspected protected characteristic) which may affect a child’s performance and/or behaviour at school.
Consultation with parents, GPs, health visitors, speech therapists, etc. may also be sought in appropriate circumstances.
The school will maintain clear, factual and up to date records to identify patterns of behaviour which are contrary to our aims.
Unlike positive discrimination, which is in itself unlawful, positive action will be fostered in line with current best practice:
- Staff will continue to use examples in their teaching to demonstrate the benefits of a mixed society and the contributions made to our history by individuals of all genders, races, age groups, etc.
- Role playing is seen as an essential means to address the issues raised in this area
- Knowledge is encouraged in all aspects of school life to show the advantages of pooling experience, knowledge and various points of view
- Job vacancies will be widely advertised to promote a diversity of candidates.
- Children, parents and staff will be given equal treatment, equal opportunity to voice their opinions and equal access to resources
- Teaching material and other forms of communication are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure compliance with this policy
- Positive action, especially by pupils, will continue to be rewarded and made known to the wider school community
- Assembly times and PSHE sessions will reinforce good behaviour in the area of equal opportunities and involve peer groups in the approval (or disapproval) process
- Staff meetings will include equal opportunity issues, with particular reference to this policy and its inclusion in curriculum activity
- Clear and constant messages will be given regarding the school’s values and disciplinary procedures in line with the policy on behaviour.
As with all school policies, there is a critical role to be played by parents. Several aspects of this document have referred to the consultation process and the need to reinforce good behaviour in the community.
Parents will continue to be informed of their child’s behaviour, good and bad, together with any aspects of their attitude towards others which gives rise to concern. Initial liaison regarding discrimination problems is expected to be of an informal nature by the class teacher.
However records will be maintained of abuses and ongoing concerns will be discussed in depth by the Headteacher and parents. Parents who are unavailable/unwilling to discuss individual cases will receive a letter inviting their response, a copy of which will be held on file.
All forms of discrimination by any person within the school are to be treated seriously and a careful note kept of any such incidents. It must always be made clear that such behaviour is unacceptable. Subsequent incidents should be reported to the Headteacher or Senior Management when a decision will be made as to the involvement of the parents of the children concerned.
In the event that formal disciplinary proceedings are contemplated, or if cooperation is not evident the proprietors will be consulted and a plan of action agreed. Continued unacceptable behaviour could result in exclusion procedures for the pupil.
The measurement of equal opportunities in practice requires a variety of criteria to be assessed, of both a quantitative and qualitative nature. Key areas for consideration are;
- The level of complaints by pupils, staff and parents will be reviewed each term or more frequently if unsatisfactory trends are evident
- Attendance records, punctuality and unauthorised absences will be examined in this respect
- The degree of pupil-pupil and pupil-teacher interaction during learning/play periods is deemed equally important
- Test results need constant attention and samples analysed to detect signs of under-achievement against baseline assessments, teachers’ expectations, etc. Such comparisons will pay regard to equal opportunities factors.
PRACTICE AROUND THE SCHOOL
- All children should have work displayed some time during the school year
- Children with special educational needs must be given equal access to the curriculum
- All children have equal access to extra-curricular activities
- Staff need to have an awareness of the demands of the individual and endeavour to give equal attention and speak in the same manner to all children, avoiding bias when praising or disciplining
- All children should have equal opportunities to help with jobs and mixed groups should move PE equipment
- All children must have an opportunity to take books home to read
- Children should be involved in formulating class rules at some point in each academic year
- Parents and the proprietors have an opportunity to view the type of teaching/work undertaken in support of the curriculum. This should encourage an independent perspective of the way in which the ‘wider community’ is portrayed.
Our aim is to have a zero incidence of, and tolerance for, discriminatory behaviour. The school should exude a confident, progressive approach to the aims set out in this policy, actively demonstrating the benefits of mixed contributions and teamwork.
MANAGEMENT AND ORGANISATION
- To review all policies to ensure that each area, whether a whole school issue or a curriculum subject, takes account of the specific ways in which equal opportunities applies
- To monitor academic achievement by analysing test results and other relevant pupil data scores, including LEA information, by sex, race and ethnicity.
- To plan a programme of assemblies which includes opportunities to challenge prejudice, question stereotyping and enhance understanding of our multicultural and pluralistic society
- To ensure that all assemblies are free from messages or language which undermine principles of tolerance or understanding
- To encourage adults from a broad spectrum of society to visit the school, particularly to demonstrate role models which are non-traditional for their sex, ethnicity or disability
- To devise schemes of playground use which avoid domination of space by any particular group
- To provide training and support in order to ensure that playtime supervisors uphold the principles of equal opportunities in their work with children
- To include in the school’s Behaviour & Anti-Bullying Policy a reference to the avoidance of sexual or racial harassment and abuse, together with clearly understood procedures for dealing with any occurrences
- To ensure that sanctions used in the school are the same for boys and girls and applied equally
- To encourage an understanding of the ways in which language can be used to stereotype and undermine confidence
- To make clear sexist and racist abuse are not acceptable
- To ensure that school publications reflect the commitment to equal opportunities and are free from gender or cultural bias
- To provide access throughout the school site for wheelchair users and people with other disabilities, as resources allow (refer to Disability Access policy)
- To encourage and develop positive links with the local community
- To make all visitors feel welcome
CLASSROOM PRACTICE AND DELIVERY
- To ensure equal access to resources, equipment and toys
- To take steps to build the skills and confidence of children in areas where they may traditionally be lacking in confidence, e.g., dance or sewing for boys, football or construction for girls
- To ensure equal opportunities for talking and listening in whole class discussion, group work and paired work
- To divide teacher time equitably between girls and boys
- To create an environment in which cooperation is central and in which children will work in a range of grouping contexts (single or mixed sex, mixed ability, random or compatible) comfortably and with purpose
- To teach children the skills to resolve conflicts and become assertive.
CURRICULUM PLANNING AND DESIGN
- To review the taught curriculum and actively seek opportunities to address the issues of equal opportunities
- To ensure that multi-cultural issues are not presented in a tokenistic way
- To be aware of, and challenge, bias and stereotypical viewpoints within our teaching and language, e.g., only presenting images of Africa or India as poor and rural
- To draw on examples from many cultural traditions and recognise Britain as having a diverse cultural background
- To help children explore the idea of ‘stereotyping’ in order that they can make more informed choices in relation to their identity (i.e., gender, ethnic or cultural background, disability)
- To be aware of the balance of male/female roles, disabled/able-bodied and roles from a variety of cultural backgrounds when choosing historical figures or the work of artists, composers, authors, etc. as a focus for a curriculum area.
- To monitor assessment procedures to ensure that they are not distorted by stereotyped attitudes and expectations.
- To prepare and select resources which are free from cultural or gender bias wherever possible
- Where their use is unavoidable, to employ biased resources as a means of provoking discussion of equal opportunities.