Equality Act 2010

Schools and trusts have specific duties under the Equality Act 2010. Learn what's required of you, and of your school/trust.

Last reviewed on 29 January 2024See updates
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  1. The legislation
  2. Protected characteristics
  3. Unlawful behaviour under the Act
  4. General exceptions for schools/trusts
  5. Reasonable adjustments
  6. Your duties under the Act
  7. The Public Sector Equality Duty
  8. How to monitor compliance with the Act

The legislation

The Equality Act 2010 ('the Act') protects everyone in England and Wales. It applies to all schools and trusts, regardless of type.

In this article, we refer to the DfE's non-statutory guidance for schools about how schools can fulfil their duties under the Act.

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

The DfE's guidance notes age is a protected characteristic in schools only in relation to employment and the provision of goods and services – it doesn't apply to pupils, even if they're over 18 (paragraph 1.15).

This is also true for marriage and civil partnership, as set out in section 84 of the Act.

Unlawful behaviour under the Act

This is what normally comes to mind when you think about discrimination: intentionally treating someone less favourably, due to a protected characteristic. For example, not making reasonable adjustments for a person at a school