Public Sector Equality Duty
Public bodies such as schools have a duty, under the 2010 Equality Act, to ensure they promote equality within their organisation and this statement sets out how we endeavour to achieve this at The Folkestone School for Girls. Of course, we consider this to be not just a legal duty but a moral one as well. A belief in the right of every single person to be treated with equal dignity and compassion alongside equal legal protection is fundamental to the ethos that underpins everything we do in school, and as an international and global school that is writ large across our school curriculum; we want are girls to know that as human beings, no matter the things that make us different, there is more that unites us than divides us
The Equality Act makes explicit our responsibility to have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate discrimination and other conduct that is prohibited by the Act
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it
Foster good relations across all characteristics - between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.
- In this respect, a protected characteristic could be any one of a multitude of factors that are shared by particular groups of people, but will include characteristics such as race, disability, sex, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment. Central to a commitment to fulfil this responsibility is a recognition that all groups with protected characteristics fall within the compass of the human race as a whole, and who by definition therefore have equal status and equal rights.
We hold both International School Status and a Global School Award and as such our international outlook & global dimension is as vital to our ethos as our FSGBacc programme; we want our girls to know that as human beings there is much more that unites us than divides us. Our work, and success in this area in recent years has strengthened our resolve. We have reflected upon and refocused our views that curriculum should not just interest and inspire the girls, not just reflect and respond and be relevant to the world we live in but that we need to be much more ambitious; that the curriculum we teach should give our girls the knowledge, the skills, the drive, the courage, the wisdom, the optimism and the values to change the world for the better. From our extensive penpal programme and subject specific ‘international’ developments through to our creative cross curricular projects in years 7 & 8, our ‘ancestry’ project, and our introduction of discrete curriculum time for Global Education in Year 9, which develops critical thinking skills as girls consider complex, global ‘real world’ problems; our international ethos and global outlook has become an intrinsic part of what we do.
We also seek to recognise that the way in which we treat people is reflective of the way we treat the environment in which we live and The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are used to reflect our commitment to, and responsibility for, the wider world. As a school, we are in the privileged position of supporting equality in our current practices, whilst also helping children to develop and embed the principles of equality and responsibility that will best promote this in the longer term. In our most recent student survey, students themselves clearly reflect the schools success in this area.
Our equality objectives are based on the principles of human rights and human dignity, and can be summarised as follows:
To ensure that the school retains a culture of advancing equality both in its policies and its practices
- To develop the students’ understanding of, and commitment to, the promotion of equality and the elimination of discriminatory practices and beliefs
- To deepen an understanding among all students and staff of the strengths and needs of all protected characteristic groups
- To continue to seek ways in which the culture, policies and practices within school can be further improved to advance equality and to eliminate discrimination
- To celebrate the rich variety of individual and group characteristics which constitute our school community, as well as the wider world.
Principles into Practice
The following list covers some of the main ways in which we seek to implement our moral and legal responsibilities to ensure equality within school. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Whenever the Board of Trustees or leadership team review policies in school, we always take into account any relevant equal opportunity implications. The school's key policies are kept updated on our website, and all our policies are available by request.
- We regularly analyse the progress and attainment of all students in the school, including the progress and attainment of specific groups. Should we identify significant variations between the students who share a protected characteristic and students in the school generally, we would explore the reasons behind this to ensure that students in particular groups are not being inadvertently disadvantaged, but it is equally important not to assume that the discrepancy is necessarily a consequence of a particular characteristic. This means that we look at students as individuals, so that we are best placed to support in the way that is most appropriate for the individual. We also recognise that each child is an individual, composed of a multitude of characteristics, and their inclusion in one or more protected characteristic groups should not be seen to define them without reference to everything else that goes to make the whole child.
- All aspects of the curriculum are open to all students, and we will always make reasonable adjustments where necessary to accommodate the particular needs of a student or group of students.
- Our Code of Conduct models the Fundamental British values of respect and tolerance to all people, irrespective of characteristics, and we consider it our moral duty to promote and develop this understanding and good practice in the students themselves. In teaching of the academic curriculum, we believe that education is by far the most effective response to intolerance or disrespect.
- We promote a culture in which all students feel comfortable sharing concerns and worries with adults in school. Although worries can affect all students, those in protected characteristic groups can face greater barriers than their peers do. We place great emphasis on the development of strong relationships between all adults and children in the school, based on mutual trust and respect. Consequently, when a student feels vulnerable or worried, they are able to choose, from a number of adults that they know well, the person they feel most comfortable approaching.