Even before the Public Sector Equality Duty came into effect on 5 April 2011, thereby extending the legislative diversity responsibilities of public bodies to religion or belief, more than nine-tenths of maintained schools had already built religion or belief into their written equality policies or schemes.
This finding derives from a telephone survey of 503 maintained primary schools, secondary schools (including a booster of academies), special schools and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) in England and Wales, which was conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Equality and Human Rights Commission between 7 June and 20 July 2010.
The proportion of schools covering religion or belief in their schemes averaged 93% but reached 98% in secondary schools, academies and special schools. The lowest figures were for primary schools (92%) and – somewhat paradoxically – faith schools (90%).
Nevertheless, only 34% of schools which covered religion or belief in their equality policies had actually set specific targets relating to the religion or belief equality strand at the time of fieldwork. This equated to 31% of all schools (dropping to 21% in the case of secondary schools).
The survey is reported in Graham Bukowski, Hazel Roberts, Jen Fraser and Fiona Johnson, The Equality Duties and Schools, Equality and Human Rights Commission Research Report, No. 70, published on 11 July 2011 and downloadable from:
The report also disaggregates the replies of faith schools to most questions touching on other aspects of equality besides religion or belief, although it should be noted that only 69 faith schools were included in the sample.