Equal Opportunities Policy

September 6, 2015

Introduction

The College

:  Ashbourne College (College) is an independent mainstream day college for girls and boys aged from 13 – 22 years.  The College welcomes staff, workers, volunteers, students, parents and applicants from different ethnic groups, backgrounds and creeds.  The term College Community includes staff, students, parents, visitors and volunteers.

College’s position

:  The College recognises the benefits of having a diverse College Community, with individuals who value one another, and the different contributions everyone can make.  Students will be taught to value and respect others.  The College is committed to being an equal opportunities education provider and is committed to equality of opportunity for all members of the College Community.  In the provision of equal opportunities, the College recognises and accepts its responsibilities under the law and opposes discrimination on the basis of:

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

These can be called the “protected characteristics”.  The College also opposes all bullying and discrimination on the basis that a person has a special educational need or learning difficulty, or because English is an additional language.
The College aims to ensure that all policies and practices conform with the principle of equal opportunities.  The College will tackle inappropriate attitudes and practices through staff leading by example, through the personal, social and health education (PSHE) programme, through the supportive College culture and through the College’s policies.

Related policies

:  This Equal Opportunities Policy is consistent with all of the College’s policies, including the Admissions Policy, Policy on Discipline and Behaviour, Exclusions, the College Rules, Dress Code , Anti-Bullying Policy, Disability Policy, Accessibility Plan and the Special Educational Needs Policy.

    • Format

      :  All policies can be made available in large print or other accessible format if required.

Policy statement

Scope

:  This policy applies to all members of the current and prospective College Community.  There is also an Equal Opportunities Policy for Staff in the Staff Handbook.

Policy aims:

Through the operation of this policy we aim to:

  • communicate the commitment of the College to the promotion of equal opportunities
  • promote equal treatment within the College for all members of the College Community
  • create and maintain an open and supportive environment which is free from discrimination
  • foster mutual tolerance and positive attitudes so that everyone can feel valued within the College
  • remove or help to overcome barriers for students where they already exist
  • ensure that there is no unlawful discrimination against any person on any ground listed at paragraph 1.2
  • make it clear that, and ensure, that all discriminatory words, behaviour and images are treated as unacceptable
  • take reasonable steps to avoid putting disabled people at a substantial disadvantage (the ‘reasonable adjustments’ duty).

Forms of discrimination

Types:

Discrimination may be direct, indirect, arising from disability and it may occur intentionally or unintentionally.

Direct discrimination:

Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably  than another person because of a protected characteristic as set out in paragraph 1.2 above.  For example, rejecting an applicant of one race because it is considered they would not “fit in” on the grounds of their race w ould be direct discrimination.

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, for example, their sex or race.  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.

Discrimination arising from disability: Discrimination arising from disability occurs when a disabled person is treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability and the treatment cannot be justified. For example, where a student with cerebral palsy who is a wheelchair user is told they will unable to attend a school trip because there is no wheelchair access available and other options are not investigated.

Admission

Applicants:

The College accepts applications from, and admits, students irrespective of their gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief or special educational needs and will not discriminate on these grounds in the terms on which a place is offered, subject to section 8, below.  The College will treat every application in a fair, open-minded way.

Selection:

Every application will be considered on its merits within the College’s criteria for selection on grounds of the student’s ability and aptitude, but this will not be done as a way of excluding students with a disability or special educational needs, subject to section 8 below.

Admissions Policy

The College’s Admissions Policy reflects the College’s approach towards equal opportunities and is consistent with this Policy.
Education and associated services

Equal access:

The College will afford all students equal access to all benefits, services, facilities, classes and subjects including all sports, irrespective of their gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief or special educational needs, subject to considerations of safety and welfare, paragraph 5.2 and section 8, below.

Positive action:

The College may afford students of a particular racial group, or students with a disability or special educational needs, access to additional education or training to meet the special needs of the students in that group, for example, special language training for groups whose first language is not English.

Exclusions:

The College will not discriminate against any student by excluding him or her from the College, or by subjecting him or her to any other detriment, on the grounds of his or her gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief, pregnancy, maternity or special educational needs, subject to section 8 of this Policy.

Teaching and College materials:

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.

Student interaction:

All students are encouraged to work and play freely with, and have respect for, all other students, irrespective of their gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief, pregnancy, maternity or special educational needs, subject to considerations of safety and welfare.  Positive attitudes are fostered towards all groups in society through the curriculum and ethos of the College, and students will be encouraged to question assumptions and stereotypes.

Bullying:

The College will not tolerate bullying or cyberbullying for any reason.  Specific types of bullying include bullying relating to race, religion, belief or culture, bullying related to SEN, learning difficulties or disabilities, bullying related to appearance or health conditions, bullying relating to sexual orientation, bullying of young carers or looked after children or otherwise related to home circumstances, sexist or sexual bullying.  The College’s Anti-bullying Policy contains more details about the College’s anti-bullying practices.
College Dress Code

The College Dress Code is consistent with this Policy.  The same policy on dress code applies equally to all students, irrespective of their gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief or special educational needs, subject to considerations of safety and welfare.  However, the College will consider reasonable requests to alter the College Dress Code, for example, for genuine religious requirements and reasonable adjustments for disabled students.

Symbols of faith:

Certain items of jewellery, such as the Kara bangle, and certain items of headwear, such as the turban and headscarves may be worn by students when doing so is genuinely based on manifesting religious or racial beliefs or identity.  This is subject to considerations of safety and welfare and the College’s existing dress code principles .  Where there is uncertainty as to whether an item may be worn under this section, the issue must be referred by the student or his or her parents to the Principal, whose decision will be final, subject to the Complaints procedure.

Disabled students:

Reasonable adjustments may be required to the Dress Code for disabled students who require them. The students or his or her parents should refer the matter to the Principal to ensure all reasonable adjustments are made to accommodate the student.
Religious belief

Religion

:  The College is not affiliated to any religion or ethos, but the College respects the right and freedom of individuals to worship in accordance with other 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.

Disability and special educational needs

Our approach

:  We are an inclusive College which welcomes members of the College Community with disabilities and special educational needs.  We maintain and drive a positive culture towards inclusion of disabled people and those with special educational needs in all the activities of the College and we will not treat a member of the College Community less favourably on these grounds without justification.  At present, our facilities, physical and otherwise, for the disabled and those with special educational needs are limited.  However we will do all that is reasonable to ensure that the College’s curriculum, ethos, culture, policies, procedures and premises are made accessible to everyone.  Our ‘Disability Policy’ and ‘Policy on Special Educational Needs’ are consistent with this policy.  For a copy of these policies please contact the Director of Studies.

Definitions

:  Students have ‘special educational needs’ if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.  A disability is a physical or mental impairment which has a “substantial and long term adverse effect” on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activity (Equality Act 2010).  For further clarification please refer to the policies mentioned in paragraph 8.1 above.

Reasonable adjustments

:  The College has an on-going duty to make ‘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.  This is a broad expression that covers all aspects of college life, for example: the curriculum, classroom organisation and timetabling, access to college facilities, clubs and visits, college sports and college policies.  Reasonable adjustments may typically include:

  • making arrangements for a student in a wheelchair to attend an interview by providing as much assistance as possible
  • allowing extra time for a dyslexic student to complete an entrance exam
  • providing examination papers in larger print for a student with a visual impairment
  • rearranging the timetable to allow a student to attend a class in a more accessible part of the building

The College is not legally required to make adjustments which include:

  • physical alterations such as the provision of a stair-lift or new ground floor facilities, or a new library
  • auxiliary aids and services such as a loop for students with hearing aids;
  • large LCD screen computers and disability trained classroom assistants.
    • The Equality Act 2010 will in due course require all schools to provide auxiliary aids and services for disabled students.  In the meantime, if parents are willing to pay for auxiliary aids and services, the College will carefully consider any proposals and will not unreasonably refuse any requests for such aids and services to be provided.  The College will have due regard to any request by a parent or student (who has sufficient understanding of the nature and effect of the request) to treat the nature or existence of the person’s disability as confidential.

Informing the College

:  In accordance with the College’s terms and conditions, parents of students must notify the Principal in writing if they are aware or suspect that the student (or prospective student) has a disability or if they (either parent), the student (or prospective student), or any close relations have at any time had, or has a learning difficulty.  Prospective parents are invited at interview to give details of the student’s disability when applying for a place at the College.  Parents must provide copies of all written reports and other relevant information upon request.  Providing the College with such information will enable the College to support the student as much as possible.  Confidential information of this kind will only be communicated on a “need to know” basis.

Admission of students with special educational needs and/or a disability

:  Applications for a place at the College will be considered on the basis that ‘reasonable adjustments’ (see definition above) have been made by the College in order to cater for the student’s special educational needs and/or disability.  The College will not offer a place if, after reasonable adjustments have been made, the College will not be able to provide adequately for the student’s physical and educational needs.  The College shall inform the parents of their decision and give details of the reasonable adjustments they are going to make or give reasons why an offer of a place has not been made.

Existing students

:  Where the College becomes aware of a disability or special educational need of an existing student, the College will do all that is reasonable to assist the student whilst at the College, which may include making ‘reasonable adjustments’.  If in the professional judgement of the Principal, and after consultation with the parents and the student (where appropriate), the College cannot provide adequately for the student’s physical and educational needs after all reasonable adjustments have been made, parents will be asked to withdraw the student, without being charged fees in lieu of notice and with the acceptance deposit returned.  The College will do what is reasonable to help parents to find an alternative placement which will provide the student with the necessary environment and level of teaching and support.

Access

:  The College will monitor the physical features of its premises to consider whether disabled users of the premises are placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to other users.  Where possible and proportionate, the College will take steps to improve access for disabled users of the premises.  The College has an Accessibility Plan, which is reviewed on a regular basis and is available on request from College Office.

Staff responsible

: The Director of Studies (Lee Kirby) is responsible for Special Educational Needs matters at the College
Students with statements of special educational needs

Welfare and education

: The College’s Policy on Special Educational Needs includes details about the welfare and educational provision for students with Statements of Special Educational Needs.

Students with English as an additional language

Welfare

: Students with English as an Additional Language (EAL) will receive additional learning support if necessary.  The College will consult with the student and the parents as appropriate.  The College has appropriate welfare support for all such students through the Personal Tutoring and pastoral care systems.

Provision for students with particular religious, dietary, language or cultural needs

Religion

:  The College does not have a prayer room or any place set aside for private prayer or reflection.  Students may submit a request to their personal tutor for a room in which to pray and the College will consider providing this.  However the College may reject any such request on the grounds of health and safety, consideration of other students and staff members, space restrictions, likelihood of complaints or for any other reasonable reason.

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.

Language

:  All students are encouraged to speak English at all times whilst on the College premises.  Students for whom English is a second language are provided with additional tuition throughout their course of study at A-level.  In the Middle School, students may be provided with English tuition in place of a modern foreign language or English Literature. Individual tuition is available on request and subject to tutor availability.

Dietary needs

:  The College will consider requests for particular dietary needs.

Responsibilities

Dignity

: All members of the College Community are expected to comply with this policy and therefore to treat others with dignity at all times without regard to their gender, marital/civil partnership status, race, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, maternity, gender reassignment, religion, belief or age.

Overall 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.

Management

:  Those working at a management level have a specific responsibility to set an appropriate standard of behaviour, to lead by example and to promote the aims and objectives of the College with regard to equal opportunities.

Monitoring and review

Monitoring

:  To ensure that this policy is operating effectively with respect to admission and selection, and to identify those sections of the local community which may be under-represented in the College, the College monitors applicants’ gender, nationality, disability and religion or belief confidentially as part of the Admissions procedure.

Review

:  Director of Operations is responsible for the ongoing monitoring and regular analysis of the data monitored under paragraph 10.1 above and under paragraph 11.4 below and will arrange for the taking of appropriate positive steps to eliminate unlawful direct and indirect discrimination where necessary.  Director of Studies is responsible for reviewing whether the aims of this Policy are carried out throughout all areas of the College and taking appropriate action where necessary.  This policy is reviewed annually by the Director of Studies .  Recommendations for any amendments are reported to the Principal.

Reporting and recording incidents of discrimination


Questions about this policy
:  If you have any questions about the content or application of this policy, you should contact Director of Studies.

Complaints

:  If you believe that you have received less favourable treatment on any of the unlawful grounds listed in paragraph 1.2 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 Procedure.  For a copy of the College’s Concerns and Complaints Policy, please contact the Director of Studies.  Allegations regarding potential breaches of this policy will be treated in confidence and investigated in accordance with the complaints procedure.

Reports

:  If you would like to report a breach of this policy that does not constitute a complaint under paragraph 14.2 above, please contact the Director of Studies.

Enforcement

:  We will treat seriously and urgently investigate every complaint and report.  Disciplinary action may be taken against any member of the College Community who is found to have acted in contravention of this policy.

Record

:  All reported breaches of this policy will be recorded and this record will be reviewed annually by the Director of Studies.

Publication

This policy will be available on the College’s website and on request from the Director of Studies .

 

Authorised by The Principal
Date September 2015
Effective date of the policy September 2015
Circulation Teaching staff / all staff / parents / Students on request
Review date September 2016