Discrimination is when someone is treated or considered differently to someone else because of their race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, or religion e.g. saying somebody can’t join a football game because they’re disabled. Discrimination can take many forms.
Direct discrimination occurs when one person is treated better than another person is treated because of a protected characteristic. For example, if a female pupil is actively discouraged from taking an engineering course by a teacher who tells her this is an unsuitable subject for girls, this would be direct discrimination on the grounds of gender. It is not possible to justify direct discrimination, so it will always be unlawful.
Direct discrimination also occurs when a person is treated less favorably because of their association with another person who has a protected characteristic, for example, their sibling, parent, carer, or friend. For example, children may be discriminated against because their parents are a same-sex couple.
Indirect discrimination occurs when a school applies a provision, criterion, or practice in the same way for all pupils, but this has the effect of putting pupils sharing a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage. For example, a school requires all male pupils to wear a cap as part of the school uniform. Although this requirement is applied equally to all pupils, it has the effect of excluding Sikh boys whose religion requires them to wear a turban.
Effects of discrimination in schools
Poor attendance at school
Poor academic achievement
Children and young people not reaching their potential
Children and young people feeling isolated