Equalities

The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and Equality Objectives for Cotham School-April 2012

This document has been revised in April 2013. Revisions are shown in red.

What is the PSED?

The Equality Act 2010 introduced a single, general duty for public bodies, including schools, and which extends to all ‘protected characteristics’ – race, disability, sex, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity and gender reassignment.

There are three main elements within the act and in carrying out our functions, as a school, we must have regard to the need to:

1.      Eliminate discrimination and other conduct prohibited by the act.

2.      Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.

3.      Foster good relations across all characteristics – between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.

It should be noted that age is a relevant characteristic for schools when considering their duties as an employer but not in relation to pupils.

The PSED replaces the previous three sets of separate duties to promote disability, race and gender equality.

All schools must have ‘due regard’ to the three elements. Therefore whenever significant decisions are being made, or policies being developed or reviewed, the school will consider carefully the equalities implications. 

How does Cotham School comply with the PSED?

Introduction:

The school has an Integrated Equalities Policy, available on our website that makes explicit the school’s long established commitment to actively promoting equality of opportunity for all. It is worthy of note that the practical implementation of this policy was given specific mention in Cotham’s previous two Ofsted Inspections. In 2008 the school was noted for its inclusivity and in 2010 the achievement of minority groups within the school was praised. The variance in attainment and progress between groups; Male and Female, Children with Special Educational Needs, Gifted and Talented, Black and Minority Ethnic groups, speakers of English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Children on Free School Meals (FSM) is small. The performance outcomes for children in these groups demonstrate the policy and practice of the school.

Our Inclusion Team makes a significant contribution to promoting equal opportunities and, with the Coordinator for Minority Ethnic Achievement, directly intervenes to actively promote equal opportunities. The creation of a post that directly teaches and supports EAL learners has contributed significantly to their learning and well-being. However, the school is far from complacent and remains focused upon ensuring that its response to the PSED is significant and effective. There have been further appointments in literacy and numeracy to ensue that all students are able to meet expected standards and to close the gap in attainment between different groups of students.

1.      Eliminate discrimination

Cotham School is a large, complex organisation with a mixed, diverse, multi-faith, multi-ethnic student population. Close tracking of all student outcomes takes place in a structured, systematic way and where it reveals underachievement, low attainment or concerns about specific groups or individuals the school intervenes. The value added to the levels of educational achievement of students from a minority ethnic background has risen steadily over the last five years and these are now significantly positive whereas they were very negative. This change has been created through a variety of school improvement approaches that will continue to be supported and developed.

Monitoring and evaluation and the analysis of data takes place across the school and is used within the improvement cycle at each key stage. Monitoring takes place three times a year and positive action taken to rectify any disadvantages that are revealed.  Examination results published in August lead to judgements for key areas of improvement and development. At post-16 following on from examination results a prioritised action plan (RAP) is set in motion for the next academic year.

Close tracking of detention data revealed that students who are eligible for FSM were overrepresented in detentions for lack of homework. To address this a KS3 homework club has been set up which is run by post 16 students. The aim is to offer students support with homework and avoid them being sanctioned by detention. At Post 16 learning support for students is through our academic mentor who supports students’ access to learning. We maintain strong links with external agencies to ensure the provision of appropriate and effective support for students with disabilities and/or learning difficulties. To monitor further underachievement of students, we have also created “Up-Grade” a system whereby students are supported with independent learning. This is also a way of supporting the access of students to a range of cultural capital. Close tracking of behaviour data shows some reduction in sanctions for FSM and BME students.

The school positively encourages students into non-traditional areas of study and work to minimise gender stereotyping.

2.      Advance equality of opportunity

The school is committed to advancing equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it and has put a range of approaches in place to ensure that this happens.

A community cohesion group meets regularly (annually) to audit cohesion, equality and diversity and to implement plans to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between all members of the school.

The school monitors and evaluates, frequently and regularly, the attainment and progress of all students and looks at the performance of particular groups who share a protected characteristic to compare their performance with those who do not share it. Interventions are then planned and implemented in order to close any disparities in performance.

Two practical examples of the school putting equality of opportunity into practice are:
·         The school operates attendance competitions within year groups and any religious observance days that have been taken by students are discounted in order that all students have the opportunity to gain a prize.

·         Every year all the students in year 7 attend a residential, outdoor activities experience at Exmouth. A female Somali teacher attends the camp to enable female Muslim students to attend. The date of the camp was changed this year when the school realised that the camp would have taken place in Ramadan. A prayer room was set up at student request.

3.      Foster good relations across all characteristics

The school adopts a wide range of approaches to foster good relations across all characteristics. Some specific examples are as follows: 

·         Language exchanges to France, Germany and Spain. 

·         An informal exchange between Cotham and a school situated in a rural setting-Wyedean. 

·         Our performing arts team take students on dance tours to broaden their experience. 

·         The physical education team organise a large number of team events with other schools and uses older students to lead and develop younger students.

·         The school curriculum plays a significant part in our approach to fostering good relations and Personal, Social, Citizenship and Health Education, in particular, focuses upon the promotion of caring and considerate relationships. This work is complemented by that in the tutor taught programme and work in humanities and English.

·         Curriculum teams audit their materials to both ensure balance and appropriateness of content and to promote and celebrate diversity and difference. 

A partnership working audit shows extensive community links operating within the school. The co-operative forum for the Academy further promotes good relations across all characteristics.

Our Equality Objectives:

Under the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) the school is required to set Equality Objectives by 6th April 2012. Our published information must be updated annually and objectives published at least once every four years.

Objective 1:

The school will enhance its management information systems to incorporate a method of recording all incidents of bullying, harassment and any form of discriminatory behaviour. This database will be open by September 2012 and provide information to the school to enable it to take action to address any discerned patterns or trends in addition to acting promptly and effectively in individual incidents. The data base is operational and there is regular tracking and analysis of data by SLT. Targets and key actions are generated and shared with staff. The impact of these actions will be evaluated to inform future action plans.

Objective 2:

In order to eliminate discrimination all school policies will be reviewed and revised to ensure that where relevant the importance of avoiding discrimination, victimization or harassment is expressly noted. A number of key policies including admissions policy, behaviour policy, child protection and safeguarding policy and esafety policy have been reviewed and revised this academic year with the importance of eliminating discrimination being an important factor when reviewing these.

Objective 3:

To advance equality of opportunity by raising the literacy levels of black and minority ethnic boys and children who are entitled to free school meals to that of the whole school population. (It should be noted that this is the current priority and that data is frequently and regularly analysed in order to identify priorities. This objective will be reviewed and updated for April 2013) A literacy co-ordinator and a numeracy co-ordinator have been appointed to increase capacity for supporting these children. A five day holiday school with four follow up Saturday schools will take place this summer to support year 7 students with lower levels of literacy and the year 6/7 literacy summer school will run again this year.

Objective 4:

Equity and excellence are promoted through participation of all children in our Out of School Hours Learning Programmes (OSHL) and attendance and participation in OSHL are analysed by ethnicity, FSM, gender, EAL. In addition we are currently setting up our computer software to enable us to analyse by faith groups and postcode. Narrowing the gap is one of the main aims of our action planning with a focus upon increasing participation of all. Students who do not take part in OSHL activities are targeted for participation and supported to find an activity they enjoy. We are continuing to look to analyse data by faith groups and postcode.

Objective 5:

For all staff to receive information and training on the Equality Act and our shared responsibilities within it. All staff have had their attention drawn formally to the Equality Act and our shared responsibilities during a staff meeting. The Equality Act is also referred to with staff when appropriate opportunities arise. Staff information and training is on-going and information on the Act will be included in the staff handbook.