Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

inclusive education in the UK – no discrimination on grounds of gender


The following information reflects UK law before 1 October 2010, when the Equality Act 2010 came into force, and will be updated in due course. In the mean time please see the Equality Act 2010 page for further details.

The main laws relating to sex discrimination in education are:

Obligations under the law

Sex discrimination in education is unlawful under section 22 of the sex Discrimination Act, as amended in 2005:

(1) It is unlawful in relation to an educational establishment ... to discriminate against a woman—

(a) in the terms on which it offers to admit her to the establishment as a pupil, or
(b) by refusing or deliberately omitting to accept an application for her admission to the establishment as a pupil, or
(c) where she is a pupil of the establishment—
(i) in the way it affords her access to any benefits, facilities or services, or by refusing or deliberately omitting to afford her access to them, or
(ii) by excluding her from the establishment or subjecting her to any other detriment....

Section 26 makes an exception for single-sex educational institutions, which may discriminate in admissions.

The gender equality duty

In April 2007, the “gender equality duty” came into force, as introduced by the Equality Act 2006. Public authorities – including schools and further and higher education institutions – have a statutory duty to promote equality between men and women, and boys and girls, and to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment. Specific duties are outlined in Orders enacted in 2006 for England and in 2007 for Scotland specific duties for Wales are expected to be enacted in 2008). Schools must prepare and maintain a gender equality scheme which identifies how the school will fulfil these duties. The scheme must be monitored and assessed, and progress reported annually.

Resources on the gender equality duty, including on further and higher education, are available on the Equality and Human Rights Commission's website.

Note: some of the documents on this page are in PDF format. In order to view a PDF you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader

Page last updated: Tuesday 26 March 2024

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