You may remember my previous blog about the importance of having regular, up to date equality training and effective policies following the employment law case of Allay (UK) Limited v Gehlen (Feb 2021).
Two further Employment Tribunal cases Fahmy v Arts Council England (2023) and Fischer v London United Busways Limited (2023) have recently reaffirmed some of the key points made in the Allay case and have provided a reminder that in order to avoid liability for the discriminatory acts of their employees, employers must ensure all reasonable steps have been taken to prevent discrimination from occurring in the first place.
I am therefore taking this opportunity to remind school leaders to ensure equality training remains a matter high on their strategic agenda for the coming academic year. The One Education HR Team is delighted so many of schools have already utilised the equality training delivered by our equality experts as it is now very clear that without good quality equality training and an effective up to date equality policy, it will be almost impossible for a school to rely on the “all reasonable steps” defence. It would also of course be extremely difficult for a school to evidence compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty, the importance of which has recently been highlighted by Ofsted in the publication of their equality objectives for the period 2023 – 2027.
School leaders should, in particular, refer to Ofsted’s first equality objective around raising standards in education. One of the proposed supporting actions for that objective is for inspectors to be trained on schools’ equality duties so they can make appropriate enquiries during inspections and regulatory activities. Training inspectors in the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty will mean inspectors will be able to more effectively assess the extent to which schools are complying with their statutory obligations and will also of course mean they will be able highlight any failings. Given this is a clear priority area for Ofsted over the next 4 years, it should also be a priority area for all educational establishments. It goes without saying therefore that equality training for school leaders and governors is key.
If your school has not already signed up with us for equality training, or if equality training was provided more than a year ago, please get in touch to discuss how we can support you. We offer separate training sessions for governors/trustees/senior leaders and for school staff. If your school has already received our basic staff training within the last 2 years, we have a new refresher training session available from September which, like the original training session, lasts for 1 hour and is suitable for all school staff. We also have a new shorter version of the half day governor/senior leader training which covers schools’ statutory equality duties. This is suitable if no previous governor/senior leader training has been provided or if an updated refresher session is required.
More information about training options and pricing can be obtained from Keren Callaghan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or from me (email@example.com)
Finally, I am pleased to confirm that during our summer policy review, the One Education HR Model Equality Policy has been reviewed and updated and is available to download from the members area on our website. If we do not provide your HR service, it can be purchased as a stand-alone product.
Please complete the form below and we will get in contact as soon as we can to help you with your query.