Equal Opportunities Policy

1. Statement
Ashbourne is an independent College for GCSE and A level students. Members of the College Community – which includes students, staff, volunteers, parents and prospective applicants – come from all over the world and so comprise a diverse and dynamic community of people.

2. Aims
Ashbourne is committed to offering all of its members equality of opportunity. This policy has been developed in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and aims to ensure no members of the Ashbourne Community are subjected to unfair and unlawful discrimination based on the following protected characteristics:

  • gender
  • marital or civil partnership status
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • gender reassignment
  • race
  • disability
  • sexual orientation
  • religion or belief (including lack of religion or belief)
  • age

Ashbourne further opposes any form of bullying and discrimination against those with a special educational need, learning difficulty or learning impediment such as having English as a second language.

3. Related policies
Ashbourne’s commitment to equal opportunities and compliance with the Equality Act are further outlined in the following specific policies: Accessibility, Admissions, Anti-Bullying, Child Protection and Safeguarding, Disabilities, Safer Recruitment, SEND and Student Behaviour and Exclusions.

With regard to Curriculum, efforts are made to recognise and be aware of the possibility of bias (for example gender or racial), so that this can be eliminated in both the College’s teaching and learning materials and teaching styles. Materials are carefully selected for all areas of the curriculum so as to avoid stereotypes and bias.

Nevertheless, Curriculum is excluded from Equal Opportunities because it allows schools to engage with issues and expose their students to ideas of all kinds, however challenging or controversial, without fear of legal challenge based on a protected characteristic.

All policies are accessible on this website and can be made available in large print or other formats if required.

4. Positive action
Ashbourne actively encourages mutual respect between all members of the Community to create a positive, open and supportive environment where everyone can feel confident they will not be subjected to unfair discrimination. This culture is also supported for students through PSHE (personal, social and health education).

All staff members are expected to act as role models for students and therefore should be mindful to set a tone and use language that encourages respect and calls out unfair discrimination. This is particularly pertinent for teachers who in their privileged relationship with impressionable students may have a greater degree of influence. Staff are obliged to read and comply with all relevant policies pertaining to equal opportunities.

Ashbourne also aims to help remove or overcome barriers to equal opportunities where they exist including making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled students and students with special educational needs in respect of the education and associated services provided to ensure that such students are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with other students. Please see our Disability and SEND policies for further details.

Ashbourne monitors applicants’ gender, nationality, ethnicity, religious beliefs and disability, confidentially, as part of our admissions and recruitment procedure in order to assess balance in representation.

4. Unlawful discrimination
Discrimination may be intentional or unintentional.

4.1 Direct discrimination
Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another because of a protected characteristic, as set out in paragraph 2 above. For example, rejecting an applicant on the basis on race would be direct discrimination.

There are limited exceptions in which discrimination based on a protected characteristic may be permitted where there is a specified and legitimate requirement to do so.

4.2 Indirect discrimination
Indirect discrimination occurs where an individual is subject to an unjustified provision, criterion or practice which puts them at a particular disadvantage because of their protected characteristic. For example, a minimum height requirement would be likely to eliminate proportionately more women than men. If these criteria cannot be objectively justified for a reason unconnected with gender, they would be indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of gender.

4.3 Harassment
Harassment is unwanted behaviour that relates to a protected characteristic which is intended to be or has the effect of being offensive, intimidating or humiliating. It is also harassment when such unwanted behaviour is directed at individual who is perceived to have protected characteristics, even when they do not. Forms of harassment may include spoken or written abuse, offensive messaging, imagery, physical gestures, facial expressions and jokes.

Harassment also includes discriminating against someone for associating with another individual or groups who have protected characteristics. For example, harassment of an individual for campaigning for the rights of a particular group with protected characteristics.

Harassment does not cover marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity. These protected characteristics are subsumed into other classified protected characteristics. For example, harassment in relation to pregnancy would fall under sex discrimination.

4.4 Victimisation
Victimisation occurs when an individual is penalised or denied opportunities as a result of making or supporting a complaint or raising a grievance relating to the Equality Act 2010 or is suspected of doing so.

5. Religion
5.1 Religious symbols
Certain items of jewellery and headwear, such as the turban or headscarves, may be worn by students when doing so is genuinely based on manifesting religious or cultural beliefs or identity. This is subject to considerations of safety and welfare and the College’s existing dress code principles. Where there is uncertainty the issue must be referred to the Principal, whose decision will be final, subject to the complaints procedure.

5.2 Religious belief
The College has no religious affiliation. Nonetheless we respect the right and freedom of individuals to worship in accordance with their faiths, or no faith, subject always to their respecting the rights and freedoms of the College Community as a whole and considerations of safety and welfare.

5.3 Religious festivals
Students must request leave for religious festivals as they would for any other absence. The College’s decision to grant authorised absence will be final, subject to the complaints procedure.

6. Responsibility
The Principal has overall responsibility for the effective operation of the College’s Equal Opportunities Policy and for ensuring compliance with the relevant statutory framework prohibiting discrimination. The Principal has delegated to the Director of Studies day-to-day responsibility for operating the policy and ensuring its accessibility, availability, maintenance and review.

7. Reporting and complaints
If you believe that you have been discriminated against on any of the grounds listed in paragraph 2 above or if you feel that this policy has been breached in any way to your detriment you are encouraged to raise the matter through the College’s formal complaints process; you can access the Communication and Complaints Policy on this website or request a different format. Allegations of unfair discrimination will be treated very seriously, in confidence and investigated in accordance with the complaints procedure.

Disciplinary action may be taken against any member of the College Community who is found to have acted in contravention of this policy. Discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation may amount to gross misconduct and could lead to expulsion or immediate dismissal.

Staff have a duty to report to the Director of Studies any behaviour that may be considered unlawfully discriminatory.

Serious acts of discrimination and harassment may constitute a criminal offence.

8. Monitoring and review
The Director of Studies is responsible for monitoring compliance with this policy throughout all areas of the College and taking appropriate action to eliminate unlawful direct and indirect discrimination where applicable. Any questions about the content or application of this policy should be directed to the Director of Studies to assess.

This policy is reviewed annually by the Director of Studies with recommendations for any amendments reported to the Principal.

9. Publication
This policy is available on the College’s website and on request from the Director of Studies.

Authorised by The Principal
Date November 2019
Effective date of the policy November 2019
Circulation Teaching staff / all staff / parents / Students on request
Review date September 2020