Equality Act 2010

Be clear on your specific duties under the Equality Act 2010, and how it protects people.

Last reviewed on 10 November 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 3423
  1. The legislation
  2. Protected characteristics
  3. What does unlawful behaviour under the Act look like?
  4. General exceptions for schools
  5. Your duties under the Equality Act
  6. Reasonable adjustments
  7. The Public Sector Equality Duty

The legislation

The Equality Act 2010 replaced the Race Relations Act, Disability Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act. 

It protects everyone in England and Wales, so it applies to all schools, regardless of type.

We refer to the the DfE's non-statutory advice on how schools can fulfil their duties under the Equality Act 2010 in this article. It relates specifically to discrimination in an educational setting.

Protected characteristics

The Act covers the following protected characteristics:

  • Sex 
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Marriage and civil partnership

Paragraph 1.15 of the DfE guidance linked above notes that age is only a protected characteristic in schools in relation to employment and the provision of goods and services. It doesn't apply to pupils, even if they're over 18. See pages 8 to 9.

This is also true for protection based on marriage and civil partnership, which applies to employment but not to pupils – see section 84 of the Equality Act 2010.

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