Equality Act 2010: admissions and provision of education

Understand your role in making sure your school complies with its obligations to pupils and their parents under the Equality Act, and learn what you can do to prevent discrimination.

Last reviewed on 19 January 2024
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 36434
Contents
  1. What pupil characteristics are protected under the Act?
  2. What are a school's obligations under the Act?
  3. Who's responsible for making sure the school doesn't breach the Act?
  4. What's prohibited under the Act?
  5. Relationships between pupils aren't covered by the Act
  6. How to monitor compliance with the Act
  7. Other resources

What pupil characteristics are protected under the Act?

The Equality Act 2010 protects everyone in England and Wales from discrimination, victimisation and harassment based on 9 'protected characteristics'. Read more about the general provisions of the Act in our article on the Equality Act 2010

However, when it comes to pupils and prospective pupils, the Act has specific provisions which protect them from discrimination because of these characteristics:

  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy or maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Note that pupils aren't protected from age discrimination or discrimination based on marriage or civil partnership.

This protection covers pupils who are:

  • Applying for admission 
  • Currently enrolled
  • Formerly enrolled

See paragraphs 1.5, 1.8, 1.9, 1.15 of the Department for Education's (DfE's) Equality Act 2010: advice for schools, and section 84 of the Equality Act 2010

What are a school's obligations under the Act?

Admissions The provision of education Access to