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The Equality Duty

Marion Plant

Equality matters. Where any one of discriminates against an individual or a group on any basis we may deny people the opportunity to fulfill their potential. That cannot be acceptable. 

We should all be clear about what The Equality Duty, enshrined in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, is. We must be clear because it must inform the way we approach work here in our colleges every day, with our students, with the communities we serve and with each other. 

Those subject to the 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.

We must ensure that we do not discriminate on any of the following characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We also need to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination against someone because of their marriage or civil partnership status. 

The Equality Duty is particularly important for our colleges since our core mission is to enable all of our learners to achieve their full potential. 

Whilst it may be a requirement of law, the Equality Duty must be more than this. It must permeate everything we do. It is not a checklist but a core part of our culture. 

One of the ways that we can ensure that we all adhere to the letter and the principles of the Equality Duty is to hold each other to account. Where we see transgressions, it is, I believe, our duty to challenge and to question. It is for each of us to contribute to a culture that allows this degree of challenge. 

To paraphrase the highly regarded Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing. Where we see discrimination it can be more comfortable to say and do nothing. That can never be the right thing to do. We cannot and will not stand by and do nothing. All of us must work relentlessly towards fulfilling the duty and the spirit of this important duty. 

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Marion Plant OBE
Principal & Chief Executive 



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