Equality and Diversity
The public sector equality duty is made up of a general equality duty supported by specific duties which is set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
The general equality duty applies to ‘public authorities’. In summary, those subject to the general equality duty must, in the exercise of their functions, have due regard to the need to:
• Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
• Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
• Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
Protected characteristics are:
• gender reassignment;
• marriage and civil partnership;
• pregnancy and maternity;
• religion or belief;
• sexual orientation
The Equality Act explains that the aim of advancing equality of opportunity involves, in particular, having due regard to the need to:
• Remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics.
• Take steps to meet the needs of people with certain protected characteristics where these are different from the needs of other people.
• Encourage people with certain protected characteristics to fully participate including activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
It states that meeting different needs includes (among other things) taking steps to take account of disabilities, including mental health. It describes fostering good relations as tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people from different groups. It explains that compliance with the general equality duty may involve treating some people more favourably than others.
In summary, each listed public sector authority including the college is required to:
1. Publish information to demonstrate its compliance with the general equality duty. This information must include, in particular, information relating to people who share a protected characteristic who are:
• its employees, and
• people affected by its policies and practices i.e. the College’s students.
2. Prepare and publish one or more objectives needed to further any of the aims of the general equality duty.
Both the equality information and the equality objectives must be published in a manner that is accessible to the public.
Equality Objective One – Staff and Student Data
The College is attempting to address the issues of collecting relevant data concerning the protected characteristics of staff and students with a view to engaging better with these groups so that any discrimination, harassment or victimisation can be better identified and so that good relations can be fostered between different groups.
By July 2016, staff will be encouraged to input their data via the self-service module on the HR Database (iTrent), with confidentiality assured and follow up conversations with staff who “prefer not to say” to understand this. Currently, this category for all protected characteristics is approximately 46% – which is seen to be attributed to data collection, particularly for staff who were TUPE’d into the College in 2015. However, by July 2016, it is aimed that this is reduced to 20% with a further reduction to 10% by July 2017.
The College will take steps to address the need for a diverse portfolio matching the student population in terms of protected characteristics.
By July 2016, data comparison between HR data and Student data will identify differences. Currently there is a gender differential with 74% female staff compared to 64% female student ratio. Whilst it is understood that this is average for the Education sector, the College will work with the Marketing team on advertising jobs targeted to attract male staff where appropriate.
By December 2016, an action plan overseen by the Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare (PDBW) Committee will highlight required actions arising from this data comparison and a further review will take place in December 2017 to identify the success of actions taken.
The College will ensure that the admissions team are gathering data on race, disability, gender and age of students via the enrolment process. The College will also seek an indication of the likely representation on sexual orientation and religion/belief, and of any challenges or barriers experienced by transgender students.
The College recognises that students may not want to disclose this information on their arrival at the College, so opportunities will be provided during 1-1 sessions with tutors and performance managers at the start of the academic year for these conversations to take place. These systems will be reviewed ahead of the September 2017 intake.
Equality Objective Two – Staff and Student Voice
The College will ensure that its commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is clear and unequivocal in any communications. However, the College plans to improve the way it communicates with staff and students across all Protected Characteristics.
The College will therefore develop various ways in which the voice of different groups with shared protected characteristics is more able to be heard and listened to within its staff and student bodies.
By December 2016, the College will establish focus groups from each of main group represented within the staff and student body or where such groups are in very small minorities, conduct structured interviews with volunteers from these groups. For each of these groups, their main perceptions of life at the College and their main concerns will be established via this consultation, together with a baseline of satisfaction with their experience of the College. Action plans, overseen by the PDBW Committee will be generated so that by April 2017, positive feedback is obtained on their experience. The success of this objective will be established via a zero to near-zero incidence of substantiated complaints concerning discrimination etc on the grounds of a person’s protected characteristic and prompt action to the complainant’s satisfaction where any such incidence occurs.
Staff exit questionnaires will be developed by July 2016 to include a question about whether a person’s protected characteristic had any bearing (positive or negative) on their employment at the College. This will be fed back to the PDBW Committee to take forward any actions arising.
The annual student conference and the student satisfaction survey enable students to express their views on their time at College. The survey, delivered through Office 365, has been improved since its implementation in January 2016. The in-house approach provides the flexibility to carry out the survey twice in each academic year to measure change in students’ opinions during the academic year. The survey allows the College to monitor variation in opinions across protected characteristic groups, and allows students to voice concerns and opinions anonymously. Issues raised are then addressed by focus groups and the College’s student representatives.
As part of the core tutorial programme sessions covering British Values provide students with the opportunity to discuss freely equality and diversity within society.
All 16 -19 students have a progression PDP when finishing their course in order to record destinations. Data on early leavers will be captured through a template held on Pro-Monitor for review by curriculum staff. Through this process the College will ascertain if a protected characteristic had any impact on the student’s study programme and experience at College. The College is committed to continue to narrow any gaps in performance by different groups of students and will take appropriate actions to achieve this. This too will be fed back to the PDBW committee and actions followed up as appropriate, for implementation during academic year 16/17.
The College’s Equality and Diversity Policy (review date April 2019) will be delivered through these objectives, 2016 to 2020. The objectives will be taken forward in the operational action plan overseen by the PDBW Committee.
Our Equality and Diversity Policy can be found here.