Creating a fairer Britain
Reviewing your behaviour and exclusions policies regularly will help you to ensure that they do not inadvertently discriminate against pupils with a particular protected characteristic by including factors that would make it more likely that pupils with that particular protected characteristic would be disciplined or excluded than those without.
Indirect discrimination may occur if behaviour or exclusions policies result in a greater proportion of pupils with protected characteristics being disciplined or excluded.
A school’s blanket exclusion policy of ‘three strikes and you’re out’ is found to be indirectly discriminating against Gypsy and Traveller pupils. Pupils from these communities are facing extreme levels of racially motivated bullying and are retaliating to the bullying which in turn was not being adequately investigated. The blanket exclusion policy was reviewed and incidents investigated on a case-by-case basis.
If your exclusions and behaviour policies are non-discriminatory (and you take into account your duty to make reasonable adjustments to your policies and procedures for disabled pupils) then you are less likely to exclude a pupil for a discriminatory reason. Those making decisions about discipline and exclusions should be aware of the school’s obligations under the Equality Act and take care not to make assumptions that may lead to unlawful discrimination. The equality duties will assist you in trying to ensure that your policies and procedures do not discriminate against pupils.
Under the equality duties, a school carries out regular monitoring and evaluation of its data on exclusions for pupils with protected characteristics, and finds that a disproportionately high number of pupils who are either temporarily or permanently excluded are black boys and pupils with a learning difficulty. The school behaviour and discipline policies are prioritised for an equality impact assessment (EIA) which uncovers that certain aspects of the policy are discriminating against these pupils. This includes a lack of a differentiated behaviour policy for those on the autistic spectrum and with moderate learning difficulties, and a lack of awareness and training of teachers in relation to how to support black boys in the classroom. Following the EIA, a new policy is developed, with an action plan and training for staff, and a whole school behaviour and discipline strategy is implemented.