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 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.
Staff are 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 14% (July 2017). It is aimed that this is reduced to 10% by July 2019.
By December 2016, an action plan overseen by the Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare (PDBW) Committee highlighted required actions arising from the data comparison and a further review took place in December 2017. This identified that 47.6% of students were male in 16/17 compared to 25.3% of staff. In addition, in 16/17 31.6% of students have disclosed a disability or difficulty compared to 6.4% staff. Whilst we would expect there to be differences to some degree in these areas – due to being an education establishment which sector wise has more female staff and the College having expertise in supporting students with learning difficulties and disabilities. However, consideration will be given to actions to minimise this gap.
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 Student Performance Managers at the start of the academic year for these conversations to take place. These systems were reviewed ahead of the September 2017 intake and found to be effective in discussions. Measures will be reviewed annually.
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. The College has a new strategic plan with an objective to become an Employer of Choice. Part of this involves meetings with staff on themes which the Principal leads on.
By December 2019, the College will establish focus groups from each of the main groups 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 through consultation, together with a baseline of satisfaction with their experience of the College. Action plans, overseen by the PDBW Committee are generated. The success of this objective will be established via a zero incidence of substantiated complaints concerning discrimination on the grounds of a person’s protected characteristic and prompt action to the complainant’s satisfaction where such an incidence occurs. This will continue to be monitored.
In September 2017, QuILTBAG+ (an anagram of LGBTQAI+) was established. It is an enrichment style group which allows students to interact with adult members of their community that could offer support and guidance to those problems uniquely Queer. It also allows students to develop supportive relationships with their peers. Members can also feedback any particular issues with managers. Consideration is being given to extend this out to staff members.
Kelly Haddrell Michael Dalton Maureen Boyle
Head of HR Head of Student Services Vice Principal
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.