The Equality Act 2010 encompasses numerous former legislations including the Sex Discrimination Act, Disability Discrimination Act, and Race Relations Act which “simplifies, strengthens and harmonises the current legislation to provide Britain with a new discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.” (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2017)

The Children’s Act 2004 focuses on the welfare of children up to the age of 18, although a large focus is on parental responsibilities, there is also a message that applies to organisations working with children, “that all organisations working with children have a duty in helping safeguard and promote the welfare of children.” (Wessex, 2016) The key sections included within the Children’s Act are:

  • To allow children to be healthy
  • Allowing children to remain safe in their environments
  • Helping children to enjoy life
  • Assist children in their quest to succeed
  • Help make a contribution – a positive contribution – to the lives of children
  • Help achieve economic stability for our children’s futures

(Claridge, 2019)

The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out and puts into law the “fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled” (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018), a key aspect to this is the public bodies, including publicly funded schools, must respect your rights and protect your human rights. In response to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the impact it will have on public funded education establishments a “Human Rights in Education Conference, … was organised jointly by the Department of Education and the Human Rights Commission, there was widespread agreement about the need for clear guidance to be given to school managers about the implications for schools of the Human Rights Act 1998.” (McGinn, 2003) As a direct response to the conference a guide has been produced explaining the human rights principles that are relevant to schools and a summary of the key issues, the majority of the issues within the guide relate to ensuring policies correctly reflect the Human Rights Act. In addition “schools are encouraged to consider ways of putting human rights standards and values to positive use in the development of a human rights culture in their schools.” (Kilkelly, 2003)

(Petty, 2011) as part of the no longer operational Institute for Learning (IfL) believes that equality and diversity within the classroom goes far beyond what government legislates. “Of course we must value all students, whatever their personal characteristics, and the backgrounds they come from. But crucially, we need to teach the value of education, and self-belief in their capacity to learn.” (Petty, 2011) IFL produce an annual equality strategy that recognises “that equality means more than issues of race, disability and gender equality.” (The Institute for Learning, 2014)

Outside the teaching profession, but may still have an impact on polices or advice within the teaching profession, is the Institute of Equality & Diversity Professionals which “promotes excellence in equality, diversity and human rights professional practice.” (IEDP, 2019) The IEDP has a clear definition of what an Equality and Diversity professional is, which varies depending upon level within the organisation, for example, “Managers who must deliver equality and human rights outcomes as part of their main tasks”.  (IEDP, 2019) In order to gain accreditation professionals will be evaluated by “assessing and accrediting evidence from work-based experience, knowledge and expertise.” (IEDP, 2019)

The legislation laid out in the Equality Act, Children’s Act and the Human Rights Act “will largely be addressed though institutional policy, and our view of diversity needs to be wider ranging and consider all aspects of diversity which have a direct impact on learning” (Gould & Roffey-Barentsen, 2014). Student handbooks should state that they are “committed to promoting equality of opportunity and celebrating diversity” and they “will adopt measures to combat discrimination on grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, sex, age, health status, disability, sexual orientation and political or religious beliefs.” Any code of conduct should state that “any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination” is considered gross misconduct.

Bibliography

Claridge, J. (2019, Mar 27). Children Act 2004. Retrieved from Working With Kids: http://www.workingwithkids.co.uk/childrens-act.html

Equality and Human Rights Commission. (2017, Oct 30). What is the Equality Act? Retrieved from Equality and Human Rights Commission: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/equality-act-2010/what-equality-act

Equality and Human Rights Commission. (2018, Nov 15). The Human Rights Act. Retrieved from Equality and Human Rights Commission: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights/human-rights-act

Gould, J., & Roffey-Barentsen, J. (2014). Achieving your diploma in education and training (1st ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.

IEDP. (2019). About Us. Retrieved from Institute of Equality & Diversity Professionals: https://www.iedp.org.uk/index.php/about-us

IEDP. (2019). Accreditation. Retrieved from Institute of Equality & Diversity Professionals: https://www.iedp.org.uk/index.php/accreditation

Kilkelly, D. U. (2003). Human Rights ACT 1998. BANGOR: Department of Education .

McGinn, G. (2003). A Guide for School Management to the Human Rights. BANGOR: Department of Education .

Petty, G. (2011). Have we got equality and diversity right? InTuition, 11.

The Institute for Learning. (2014). Single Equality Strategy. The Institute for Learning.

Wessex. (2016, August 05). Safeguarding: Key Points of Child Safeguarding Legislation. Retrieved from WESSEX Local Medical Committees: https://www.wessexlmcs.com/safeguardingkeypointsofchildsafeguardinglegislatio

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